US consumer confidence highest in eight months

Expectations for jobs, incomes, and business conditions are improving, the Conference Board says.

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP
Cecilia Zapiain (center) and Sabrina Basquez (right) shopped at a Chicago area Target Store last week as employee Chenille English-Boswell checked prices. Consumer confidence rose in May to its highest level in eight months, the Conference Board reported.

Americans are registering growing confidence that the worst of the economic downturn is over.

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index rose sharply to 54.9 this month, up from 40.8 in April, the New York-based business group reported Tuesday. May marks the third monthly rise in a row and the index now stands at its highest level in eight months.

“Consumers are considerably less pessimistic than they were earlier this year, and expectations are that business conditions, the labor market and incomes will improve in the coming months,” said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board’s consumer research center, in the release. “While confidence is still weak by historical standards, as far as consumers are concerned, the worst is now behind us."

A fifth of consumers now expect the economy to produce more jobs in the next several months, the Conference Board said, while the share expecting fewer jobs decreased from 32.5 percent to 25.2 percent.

The survey is based on a monthly survey of 5,000 US households.

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