U.S. consumer confidence jumped in February, lifted by better assessments of the job market, according to a report released Tuesday.
NASDAQ.com reported that the Conference Board, a private research group, said its index of consumer confidence increased to 70.8 this month from a revised 61.5 in January, first reported as 61.1. The February index is the highest since 72.0 in February 2011.
The latest index was far above the 64.4 expected by economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires.
The confidence report echoes the better attitudes reported last Friday by the Thomson-Reuters/University of Michigan late February survey of consumer sentiment.
“Consumers are considerably less pessimistic about current business and labor market conditions than they were in January,” said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center. “And despite further increases in gas prices, they are more optimistic about the short-term outlook for the economy, job prospects and their financial situation.”
Better labor markets are driving the more upbeat economic view.
The survey showed 38.7% think jobs are “hard to get,” down from 43.3% in January, and 6.6% think jobs are “plentiful,” up from 6.2% thinking that last month.
Consumers also think the job situation will improve over the next six months. The report shows 18.7% think there will be more jobs, up from 16.4% thinking that in January, and 16.9% expect fewer jobs, down from 19.1%.
Households also feel slightly more upbeat about future income, with 15.4% thinking their incomes will increase over the next six months, up from 13.8% saying that in January.
Despite the recent jump in gasoline prices, consumers, on average, expect inflation to be 5.5% 12 months from now, unchanged from the one-year rate expected in January.