New York - Things are looking up, from the consumers' point of view, optimism rising on the jobs front and in business expectations, according to the Conference Board Consumer Conference Index. Confident consumers are more likely to spend on home improvements and furniture. And the sense of improved job security is a key factor in driving home sales.

Data gathered through December 15 by Nielsen, which managest he index, found more consumers saying jobs are plentiful, and business conditions are "good." The latter number increased from 25.0 percent to 27.3 percent. However, those saying business conditions are "bad" also increased from 16.9 percent to 19.8 percent.

Consumers were more positive about the labor market: those claiming jobs are "plentiful" increased from 21.0 percent to 24.1 percent, while those claiming jobs are "hard to get" decreased to 24.7 percent from 25.8 percent. Figures represent the change in the index from November to December.

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had decreased moderately in November, improved in December. The Index now stands at 96.5 (1985=100), up from 92.6 in November. The Present Situation Index increased from 110.9 last month to 115.3 in December, while the Expectations Index improved to 83.9 from 80.4 in November.

"Consumer confidence improved in December, following a moderate decrease in November," said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. "As 2015 draws to a close, consumers' assessment of the current state of the economy remains positive, particularly their assessment of the job market. Looking ahead to 2016, consumers are expecting little change in both business conditions and the labor market. Expectations regarding their financial outlook are mixed, but the optimists continue to outweigh the pessimists."

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 the preliminary results was December 15.

Consumers' appraisal of current conditions was mixed in December. Those saying business conditions are "good" increased from 25.0 percent to 27.3 percent. However, those saying business conditions are "bad" also increased from 16.9 percent to 19.8 percent. Consumers, however, were more positive about the labor market. The proportion claiming jobs are "plentiful" increased from 21.0 percent to 24.1 percent, while those claiming jobs are "hard to get" decreased to 24.7 percent from 25.8 percent.

Consumers' optimism about the short-term outlook was somewhat mixed in December. Those expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months decreased slightly to 15.2 percent from 15.7 percent. However, those expecting business conditions to worsen increased slightly to 11.0 percent from 10.6 percent.

Consumers' outlook for the labor market was more optimistic. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead increased slightly to 12.9 percent from 12.0 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs decreased from 18.5 percent to 16.6 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to increase declined from 17.3 percent to 16.3 percent. However, the proportion expecting a reduction in income decreased from 11.8 percent to 9.7 percent.
 

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