Consumer Confidence Improved in August, Reaching 16-Year High

(CN) — Consumers’ faith in current economic conditions hit a 16-high in August, reaching a level not seen since July 2001, the Conference Board said Tuesday.

The Conference Board is a 501 non-profit business membership and research group that counts about 1,200 public and private corporations and other organizations as members.

Its closely-watched 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.

Helping to drive that confidence is a robust job market. The national unemployment rate is currently 4.3 percent, after employers added 209,000 jobs in July.

In related news, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Tuesday  that average expenditures per consumer for 2016 were $57,311, a 2.4-percent increase from 2015 levels.

During the same period, the Consumer Price Index rose 1.3 percent, and average pre-tax income per consumer increased 7.2 percent to $74,664.

In 2015, spending increased 4.6 percent from 2014 levels.

The bureau said household spending increased in six of eight “components” it monitors. Of these, cash expenditures jumped 14.4 percent in 2016, followed by a 7.6 percent increase in spending on personal insurance pensions, a 6.2 percent rise in spending on healthcare, and a 2.6 percent rise in expenditures for food and housing. Spending on entertainment rose 2.5 percent.

At the time, spending for transportation fell 4.8 percent in 2016, while spending on apparel dropped 2.3 percent.

Economists consider consumer spending a key measure to follow as it accounts for about 70 percent of the nation’s economic activity.

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