By Lenore Fedow
The consumer confidence index was on the rise in June, climbing to a higher level than economists had expected.
New York—Consumer confidence climbed higher than expected in June as coronavirus-related restrictions eased.

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index rose to 98.1 in June compared with 85.9 in May, higher than the 91 economists had forecast.

Though the index partially rebounded in June, it’s “well below” pre-pandemic levels, said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board.

“The re-opening of the economy and relative improvement in unemployment claims helped improve consumers’ assessment of current conditions,” said Franco.

However, she noted the Present Situation Index, which assesses how consumers feel about current business and labor market conditions, though improved month-over-month, remains weak.

The Present Situation Index rose to 86.2 from 68.4 in May.

Around 17 percent of consumers said business conditions are “good,” compared with 16 percent in May.

Those who said conditions were “bad” decreased to 43 percent compared with 51 percent in May.

As for the job market, 21 percent of consumers said jobs were “plentiful,” an increase compared with the 17 percent who said the same in May.

Those who said jobs are “hard to get” decreased to 24 percent compared with 29 percent the previous month.

“Looking ahead, consumers are less pessimistic about the short-term outlook, but do not foresee a significant pickup in economic activity,” said Franco.

The Expectations Index, which gauges consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business, and labor market conditions, increased to 106 in June compared with 97.6 in May.

The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six month was flat at 43 percent, while the percentage of those who see conditions getting worse decreased to 15 percent, compared with 21 percent in May.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was mixed, said The Conference Board.

Fewer consumers expect to see more jobs in the months ahead with that percentage declining to 38 percent from 40 percent.

The percentage of consumers expecting to see fewer jobs also decreased to 14 percent, compared with 20 percent in the previous month.

Looking to short-term income, 15 percent of consumers are expecting an increase, a slight improvement compared with just under 15 percent in May.

The percentage of consumers expecting a decrease was down to 14 percent, compared with 15 percent in the previous month.

“Faced with an uncertain and uneven path to recovery, and a potential COVID-19 resurgence, it’s too soon to say that consumers have turned the corner and are ready to begin spending at pre-pandemic levels,” said Franco.

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