he Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had increased in August, improved further in September. The index now stands at 104.1 (1985=100), up from 101.8 in August. The Present Situation Index rose from 125.3 to 128.5, while the Expectations Index improved from 86.1 last month to 87.8.

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions improved in September. Those stating business conditions are “good” decreased from 30.3% to 27.4%.
However, those saying business conditions are “bad” declined from 18.2% to 16.2%. Consumers’ appraisal of the labor market was more positive than last month. Those stating jobs were “plentiful” increased from 26.8% to 27.9%, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” declined from 22.8% to 21.6%.

Consumers’ optimism regarding the short-term outlook was more favorable in September. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months decreased from 17.6% to 16.5%. However, those expecting business conditions to worsen also declined from 11.4% to 10.2%.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was more upbeat than in August. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead increased from 14.4% to 15.1%, while those anticipating fewer jobs declined from 17.5% to 17.0%. The percentage of consumers expecting their incomes to increase declined from 18.5% to 17.1%. However, the proportion expecting a decline decreased from 11.0% to 10.3%.

“Consumer confidence increased in September for a second consecutive month and is now at its highest level since the recession,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board.

“Consumers’ assessment of present-day conditions improved, primarily the result of a more positive view of the labor market. Looking ahead, consumers are more upbeat about the short-term employment outlook, but somewhat neutral about business conditions and income prospects,” Franco said.

“Overall, consumers continue to rate current conditions favorably and foresee moderate economic expansion in the months ahead.”

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch.

The cutoff date for preliminary results was Sept. 15.