Consumer confidence jumped in March to the highest level in more than 16 years, as Americans grew increasingly upbeat about both present and future conditions, according to a report March 28 from the New York-based Conference Board.
• Confidence index rose to 125.6 (forecast was 114), highest since December 2000, from 116.1 in February.
• Present conditions gauge increased to 143.1, strongest since August 2001, from 134.4.
• Measure of consumer expectations for the next six months rose to 113.8, highest since September 2000, from 103.9.
• Share of those who said more jobs will be available in the coming months increased to 24.8%, the highest since November 1983, from 20.9%.
Optimism for faster economic growth since the election of President Donald Trump, along with rising stocks and steady labor-market gains, have helped push consumer sentiment to fresh highs. At the same time, confidence may be at risk of fading in the coming months should other parts of Trump’s agenda stall following last week’s failure of health-care legislation backed by the president and Republican leaders. The Conference Board figures reflect survey results through March 16.
“Consumers feel current economic conditions have improved over the recent period, and their renewed optimism suggests the possibility of some upside to the prospects for economic growth in the coming months,” Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said in a statement.
• Buying plans improved for automobiles and major appliances, while easing for new homes.
• Share of households who expect their incomes to rise in next six months increased to 21.5% this month, matching the highest since 2006, from 19.2%.
• The labor differential, measuring the share of those saying jobs are plentiful minus the share saying they’re hard to get, jumped to 12.2 points, the most since 2001, from 7 points in February.
• 27.1% of consumers said they expect better business conditions in the next six months, the largest share since December 2003 and up from 23.9%.