Consumer confidence increases in August

Americans' confidence in the economy rose slightly in August amid job concerns, according to After two straight months of declines, the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index increased from 51 to 53.5; economists expected 50.5.

A reading of 90 or more indicates a healthy economy, but the index—which measures how Americans feel about business conditions, the job market and the next six months—has not reached that level since the recession began in December 2007. It has been recovering erratically since hitting an all-time low of 25.3 in February 2009, but according to the August reading, confidence hasn't improved from a year ago.

The August reading was boosted by consumers' outlook for the next six months, which climbed from 67.5 to 72.5. Regarding how consumers feel now about the economy, the index fell from 26.4 to 24.9.

"Expectations about future business and labor market conditions have brightened somewhat, but overall, consumers remain apprehensive about the future," says Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center.

Consumer spending is an important economic factor because it accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity and is critical for a strong recovery.

Date : 9/1/2010