WASHINGTON (AP/WNCN) – American consumers are giving today’s economy the highest grade in more than 16 years.
The Conference Board says consumers’ assessment of current economic conditions hit the highest level this month since July 2001. The business research group’s overall consumer confidence index, which takes into account Americans’ views of current conditions and their expectations for the next six months, rose to 122.9 in August from 120 in July.
Americans’ spirits have been lifted by a healthy job market. Employers added a robust 209,000 jobs in July, and the unemployment rate has dropped to a 16-year low of 4.3 percent.
According to MarketWatch, the data suggests positive news for consumer spending in the third quarter. Spending by households has contributed to gross-domestic-product growth in the first half of the year.
Economists pay close attention to the numbers because consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.
Those saying business conditions are “good” increased from 32.5 percent to 34.5 percent, while those saying business conditions are “bad” moderated from 13.5 percent to 13.1 percent, according to data from the survey.
Consumers’ assessment of the labor market was also more upbeat. Those stating jobs are “plentiful” rose from 33.2 percent to 35.4 percent, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” decreased from 18.7 percent to 17.3 percent.