Confidence among U.S. consumers soared in July to the highest level in almost seven years as Americans grew more upbeat about the labor market and the outlook for the economy. The Conference Board’s index rose to 90.9, the highest since October 2007, from a revised 86.4 in June, according to the research group. The gauge exceeded the most optimistic forecast in a Bloomberg survey in which the median called for an 85.4 reading. More employment opportunities, fewer firings and resilient equity markets along with faster wage growth will help to further spur sentiment and provide for bigger gains in consumer spending.
The Conference Board’s gauge of present conditions rose to 88.3, the strongest reading since March 2008, from 86.3 in June. The barometer of consumer expectations for the next six months increased to 92.7, the highest since February 2011, from 86.4 a month earlier. The share of Americans who said jobs were currently plentiful advanced to 15.9 percent in July, the highest since May 2008, from 14.6 percent. More consumers than a month earlier said they expected greater employment opportunities and better business conditions in the six months ahead.
Payrolls surged 288,000 in June after a 224,000 gain the prior month that was bigger than previously estimated. The unemployment rate dropped to an almost six-year low of 6.1 percent. The share of respondents in the Conference Board’s survey that said they expected their incomes to rise in the next half year rose to 17.3 percent in July from 16.7 percent a month earlier. Though, fewer respondents in the survey said they expected to purchase cars, homes and appliances in the next six months.