April 25, 2006 – The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index rose by 2.1 index points to 109.6 in April, extending March’s 4.8 index point gain (Chart 1). Confidence levels in both of the last two months were the highest since this index reached 110.3 in May 2002.
Consumer optimism about current economic conditions climbed to a new expansion high in April. The present situation index rose by 2.9 index points to 136.2 in April, after rising by 3 index points in March (Chart 2).
Consumers’ economic forecasts for the next 6 months also improved in the latest month. The expectations index rose by 1.6 index points to 91.9 in April, after a 6.1 index point leap in March (Chart 3). However, the continuing moderate level of the expectations index suggests that consumers continued to feel relatively cautious about the outlook, through April.
Consumers perceived an improvement in April labor demand – a good omen for the April employment report. The portion of consumers reporting that jobs are currently “plentiful” rose by 0.8 percentage points to 29.1%, while the portion reporting that jobs are currently “hard to get” fell by 0.8 percentage points to 19.6%.
Thus, the net portion of consumers reporting that jobs are currently “plentiful” (“plentiful” minus “hard to get”) rose by 1.6 percentage points to 9.5% in April (Chart 4). That was its highest since 17.6% in August 2001 (just before the September 2001 terrorist attacks).