Are Americans Feeling Better About Their Economic Prospects?

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Despite a sluggish economy and an overall weak labor market, Americans found a way to be optimistic about the future, as consumer confidence rose to its highest level in more than six years.

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index jumped 5 percentage points to 82.3 in March compared to 78.3 in February. It was the highest reading since January 2008. Economists only expected the index to come in around 78.6. The lowest point for the index last year was 58 in January, while the highest point was reached in June, at 82.1. During the Great Recession, the index averaged a dismal 54.

“Consumer confidence improved in March, as expectations for the short-term outlook bounced back from February’s decline,” said Lynn Franco, director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “While consumers were moderately more upbeat about future job prospects and the overall economy, they were less optimistic about income growth. The Present Situation Index, which had been on an upward trend for the past four months, was relatively unchanged in March. Overall, consumers expect the economy to continue improving and believe it may even pick up a little steam in the months ahead.”

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