Maryland News Desk

Consumer confidence surges June

Consumer confidence surges June

Consumer confidence surged in June on strong job growth, rising incomes and cheap gasoline. The Conference Board’s closely watched index of consumers’ outlook jumped to 101.4 from 94.6 in May. Economists expected a more modest rise to 97.4. Americans’ outlook on both current conditions and their expectations for the next six months both advanced sharply. The measure has bounced around in recent months after reaching a 7-½ high of 103.8 in January, but it’s generally been up over last year.

Economists monitor the index because it can foreshadow gains in consumer spending, which accounts for more than two thirds of the economy. “Elevated levels of consumer confidence are likely to assist back-to-school spending in the upcoming months,” economist Chris Christopher of IHS Global insight wrote in a note to clients.

Employers added 280,000 jobs last month, far more than expected, and wage gains are finally showing signs of accelerating. Average regular unleaded gas prices, at $2.77 a gallon, are up from $2 early this year but below the year ago price of $3.68. Consumer confidence retreated earlier this year amid a first-quarter slump in the economy that was largely blamed on harsh winter weather and other temporary factors.

This month, the share of consumers saying jobs are “plentiful” increased to 21.4% from 20.6% in May. Those saying jobs are “hard to get” fell to 25.7% from 27.2%. The outlook for the next six months is also brighter. The portion anticipating more jobs increased to 17.8% from 14.7%, while those expecting fewer jobs declined to 15.1% from 16.6%. Meanwhile, 18.5% expect business conditions to improve, up from 16%. The share expecting business conditions to worsen dropped to 9.8% from 11.3%.

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