Conference Board reports consumer confidence grew in January, with improved job prospects.

Today’s Conference Board survey shows consumer confidence grew in January.

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index® increased in January, following a moderate increase in December. The Index now stands at 131.6 (1985=100), up from 128.2 (an upward revision) in December. The Present Situation Index – based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions – increased from 170.5 to 175.3. The Expectations Index – based on consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business and labor market conditions – increased from 100.0 last month to 102.5 this month.

“Consumer confidence increased in January, following a moderate advance in December, driven primarily by a more positive assessment of the current job market and increased optimism about future job prospects,” said Lynn Franco, Senior Director, Economic Indicators, at The Conference Board. “Optimism about the labor market should continue to support confidence in the short-term and, as a result, consumers will continue driving growth and prevent the economy from slowing in early 2020.” 

The Associated Press explains why consumer confidence is monitored closely.

Consumer confidence surveys are closely followed for clues about whether households are in a buying mood. Consumer spending accounts for 70% of economic activity.

The initial outlook for 2020 tilts toward the positive.

The economy slowed in 2019 and is expected to slow further in 2020 but solid consumer spending is expected to keep the country out of a recession.

From the Conference Board report,

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions improved in January. Those claiming business conditions are “good” increased from 39.0 percent to 40.8 percent, while those claiming business conditions are “bad” decreased, from 11.0 percent to 10.4 percent. Consumers’ appraisal of the job market also improved. Those saying jobs are “plentiful” increased from 46.5 percent to 49.0 percent, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” declined, from 13.0 percent to 11.6 percent.

That, of course, presents a contrast with employers’ consistent problems in finding qualified workers.