U.S. consumers think things are looking up for the economy

Confidence appears to be growing among American consumers, who told researchers at the Confidence Board that the prospects for their personal finances were looking sunnier as the year wore on, up nearly eight points in May from the previous month’s level of 77.4.

Lynn Franco, director of the Confidence Board’s consumer research center, said that perceived improvements in employment and business conditions were the driving forces behind the continued gains in consumer confidence, which have now continued for three months in a row.

The Confidence Board’s most recent report showed that the number of consumers describing jobs as being difficult to acquire slipped slightly from the previous month’s figures, from 44.8 percent to 43.6. Unsurprisingly, however, people who said that jobs were “plentiful” were in a clear minority at 4.6 percent. However, those surveyed were more likely to say that job prospects would improve rather than decline in the next six months.

Improvements in consumer confidence and other measures of how the economy is perceived could drive real market gains, experts say, prompting new waves of investment and business activity across many important U.S. market sectors.