Consumer confidence, reported by the Conference Board, increased in March. Consumers were very optimistic about both the current situation and the near term outlook.
The Consumer Confidence Index increased to 125.6 in March, from 116.1 in February. Both the present situation index and the expectations index reached post-recession highs. The present situation index rose from 134.4 to 143.1 and the expectations index increased from 103.9 to 113.8.
Consumers were quite optimistic about current business conditions. There were 32.2% of respondents rating business conditions “good”, 3.9 percentage points more than last month. The shares of respondents reporting business conditions “bad” and “normal” decreased by 0.5 and 3.4 percentage points, respectively.
Expectations of business conditions over the next six months also strengthened. The share of respondents expecting future business conditions to be better increased by 3.2 percentage points from 23.9% to 27.1%, while the shares of respondents expecting business conditions to worsen and to be the same declined by 2.1 and 1.1 percentage points, respectively.
Similar to business conditions, both consumers’ assessments of current employment conditions and expectations of employment over the next six months were favorable in March.
For current employment conditions, the share of respondents reporting that jobs were “plentiful” increased from 26.9% to 31.7%, with the net gain coming from the net declines in assessments of “jobs not so plentiful” (4.4 percentage points) and “jobs hard to get” (0.4 percentage point).
As for expectations of employment, the share of respondents expecting “more jobs” in the coming six months increased by 3.9 percentage points from 20.9% to 24.8%, with the net gain coming from the net declines in expectations of “fewer jobs” (1.4 percentage points) and “same” (2.5 percentage points).
The Conference Board also reported the share of respondents planning to buy a home within six months. There were 6.0% of respondents planning to buy a home in March, compared with 6.5% in February. Despite the monthly volatility, the trend in the share of respondents planning to buy a home within six months has been climbing.