The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index rose to an 18-year high in September following a big gain in August, and nearly broke the all-time high.
The Index now stands at 138.4 (1985=100), up from 134.7 in August. The Present Situation Index also slightly improved from 172.8 to 173.1, while the Expectations Index surged from 109.3 last month to 115.3 this month.
The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was September 14.
“After a considerable improvement in August, Consumer Confidence increased further in September and hovers at an 18-year high,” said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “The September reading is not far from the all-time high of 144.7 reached in 2000.”
Consumers’ assessment of current conditions largely were flat at solid in September.
Those stating business conditions are “good” rose from 40.5% to 41.4%, while those saying business conditions are “bad” declined from 9.3% to 9.1%. Consumers’ assessment of the labor market was somewhat more favorable.
Those claiming jobs are “plentiful” rose from 42.3% to 45.7%, but those claiming jobs are “hard to get” increased from 12.1% to 13.2%.
“Consumers’ assessment of current conditions remains extremely favorable, bolstered by a strong economy and robust job growth. The Expectations Index surged in September, suggesting solid economic growth exceeding 3.0% for the remainder of the year,” Franco added.
“These historically high confidence levels should continue to support healthy consumer spending, and should be welcome news for retailers as they begin gearing up for the holiday season.”
Consumers’ optimism about the short-term outlook improved considerably in September.
The percentage of consumers anticipating business conditions will improve over the next six months increased from 24.4% to 27.6%, while those expecting business conditions will worsen declined, from 9.9% to 8.0%.
Consumers’ outlook for the already-strong labor market was also more positive. The percentage expecting more jobs in the months ahead increased from 21.5% to 22.5%, while those anticipating fewer jobs decreased from 13.2% to 11.0%.
Regarding their short-term income prospects, the percentage of consumers expecting an improvement declined from 25.4% to 22.6%, but the proportion expecting a decrease declined marginally, from 6.9% to 6.5%.