Job-market optimism pushed consumer confidence up for the first time in four months in November



U.S. consumer confidence rose for the first time in four months in November, aided by more optimistic views about the outlook for the labor market.

The Conference Board’s index increased to 102 this month from a downwardly-revised 99.1 in October, data out Tuesday showed. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a reading of 101.

A measure of expectations advanced amid a rebound in consumers’ assessment of short-term income and hiring prospects, while the group’s gauge of current conditions ticked lower.

The steady slowdown in inflation is offering consumers some much-needed relief after years of stubborn price increases. Combined with a still-resilient labor market, that has allowed real wages to begin rising again and given Americans the wherewithal to keep spending.

“General improvements were seen across the spectrum of income groups surveyed in November,” Dana Peterson, chief economist at the Conference Board, said in a statement. “Consumers remain preoccupied with rising prices in general, followed by war/conflicts and higher interest rates.”

The share of consumers who said jobs were “plentiful” rose. Still, the difference between those saying jobs are currently “plentiful” compared to “hard to get” — a metric watched closely by economists as a gauge of labor-market strength — was little changed.

Buying plans strengthened, with the share of consumers expecting to buy a car, a home or major appliances all advancing from a month earlier. A metric of expected inflation eased and a larger share of consumers said they expect lower interest rates in the coming year.

The perceived likelihood of a recession over the next year fell to the lowest level in 2023, though around two-thirds still expect one to happen.

Separate data out last week from a University of Michigan survey showed short-term inflation expectations climbed to a seven-month high in November, while long-term views remained at levels not seen in over a decade.

–With assistance from Chris Middleton, Michael Sasso and Marien Lopez Medina.

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