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Consumers more optimistic about jobs, business in November

Consumers got some of their mojo back in November as the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence index jumped to 56.0, up from 40.9 in October.

The Present Situation Index increased to 38.3 from 27.1, while the Expectations Index rose to 67.8 from 50.0, the research organization said.

"Confidence has bounced back to levels last seen during the summer," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, noting that the index hit 59.2 in July (1985=100). "Consumers' assessment of current conditions finally improved after six months of steady declines. Consumers' apprehension regarding the short-term outlook for business conditions, jobs and income prospects eased considerably. Consumers appear to be entering the holiday season in better spirits, though overall readings remain historically weak."

Nov. 15 was the cutoff date for preliminary results from the monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen.

Consumers' appraisal of present-day conditions improved in November. Those stating business conditions are "good" increased to 13.3% from 11.2%, while those stating business conditions are "bad" declined to 38.2% from 43.7%.

Consumers' appraisal of the labor market was also more upbeat. Those claiming jobs are "plentiful" increased to 5.8% from 3.6%, while those saying jobs are "hard to get" decreased to 42.1% from 46.9%.

Consumers' short-term outlook, which had declined in October, was less negative in November. The proportion of consumers anticipating business conditions to improve over the next six months increased to 13.6% from 10.2%, while those anticipating business conditions will worsen declined to 15.8% from 21.3%.

Consumers' outlook for the job market also improved. Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead rose to 12.9% from 10.8%, while those expecting fewer jobs decreased to 24.1% from 27.6%. The proportion of consumers anticipating an increase in their incomes rose to 14.9% from 11.1%.

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