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Consumer confidence now back to pre-recession levels

Americans feel better about present and future situation

Americans were more confident about the economy leading up to and even after the presidential election this year, according to the Consumer Confidence Survey conducted by The Conference Board by Nielsen, a provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch.

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index increased significantly in November to 107.1, up from 100.8 in October. The Present Situation Index increased from 123.1 to 130.3, and the Expectations Index increased from 86 last month to 91.7. This brings the index back to pre-recession levels. The index stood at 111.9 in July 2007.

In 1985, the index was set to 100, representing the index's benchmark. This value is adjusted monthly based on results of a household survey of consumers' opinions on current conditions and future economic expectations. Opinions on current conditions make up 40% of the index, while expectations of future conditions make up 60%.

“Consumer confidence improved in November after a moderate decline in October, and is once again at pre-recession levels,” said Lynn Franco, The Conference Board director of economic indicators. “A more favorable assessment of current conditions coupled with a more optimistic short-term outlook helped boost confidence.”

“And while the majority of consumers were surveyed before the presidential election, it appears from the small sample of post-election responses that consumers’ optimism was not impacted by the outcome,” Franco said. “With the holiday season upon us, a more confident consumer should be welcome news for retailers.”

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey is based on a probability-design random sample. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was November 15.

Consumers were more optimistic about their present situation in November. Those saying business conditions are good increased from 26.5% to 29.2%, and those saying conditions are bad fell from 17.3% to 14.8%.

They also had a more optimistic view of the labor market. Those saying jobs are plentiful increased from 25.3% to 26.9%, however those saying jobs are hard to get remained the same at 21.7%.

Looking into the near-future, consumers who said they expect business conditions to improve over the next six months decreased from 16.4% to 15.3%. On the other hand, those who said business conditions will worsen also decreased from 11.8% to 10%.

Consumer’s outlook on the near-term labor market followed much of the same patterns. Those who say there will be more jobs in the months ahead remained unchanged at 14.5%, whereas those saying there will be fewer jobs dropped from 16.6% to 13.8%. Those saying their incomes would increase remained unchanged at 17.5%, and those saying they expected their income to decrease fell from 10.2% to 9%.

Other surveys also reflect the sudden increase in confidence in November. Consumer sentiment increased after the presidential elections, coming up from October’s drop in confidence, according to the Survey of Consumers conducted by the University of Michigan.

Even home builders showed an increased calm leading up to this year’s elections. Builder confidence held steady in November, and came in in-line with expectations, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index.

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