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Consumer Confidence Rises for Third Consecutive Month

Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index reaches highest level since February 2008

| BY Donald Liebenson

Consumer confidence increased in November for the third consecutive month, the Conference Board reported Tuesday,

The group’s monthly Consumer Confidence Index rose slightly in November to 73.7 from 73.1 in October. This is the highest level for the Index in more than four-and-a-half years. The Present Situation Index, an appraisal of current conditions, was basically unchanged from the previous month, while the Expectations index rose from 84 last month to 85.1.

“Over the past few months, consumers have grown increasingly more upbeat about the current and expected state of the job market, and this turnaround in sentiment is helping to boost confidence,” said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board, in a statement.

Respondents saying that current business conditions are “good” declined from 16.5 percent to 14.4, while those saying business conditions are “bad” deceased from 33 percent to 31.5 percent from 33.0 percent. Their assessment of the labor market improved in November. Those claiming jobs are “plentiful” increased from 10.4 percent to 11.2 percent, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” held steady at 38.8 percent.

Consumers also remained optimistic about the short-term outlook. Those expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months edged up from 21.5 percent to 22.2 percent, while those expecting business conditions to worsen dipped from 15 percent to 14.3 percent.

Consumer confidence in the labor market was about the same as in October. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead marginally improved from 19.7 percent to 20.3 percent, while those expecting fewer jobs remained virtually unchanged at 19.7 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes decreased from 16.7 percent to 15.9 percent.

The overall Consumer Confidence Index remains below 90, which is indicative of a healthy economy, but it has rebounded from the record low of 25.3 reached in February 2009.

Increased consumer confidence bodes well for the holiday shopping season, which can account for 40 percent of a retailer’s annual revenue. Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of the economy.

Between Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, the shopping season is already off to an auspicious start. In figures released Tuesday, Cyber Monday 2012 set a record for online sales, which increased  30.3 percent.

About the Author

Donald Liebenson

Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.  

A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.