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Consumer confidence is on the rise

Consumers in the Garden State and across the country are feeling more confident about the economy than they have in a long time.

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(Andrew Burton, Getty Images)

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index is up to 90.9 this month, the highest reading since October of 2007, and robust job creation is a major reason why.

Ken Goldstein, an economist with the Conference Board, said what’s happening is “more people going to work, so obviously there are more paychecks.”

“People feel as if this is either going to continue or actually even get a little better over the next few months, so people spend money, so business has to produce more because people are buying more, they also then have to invest more and have to go out and hire more,” Goldstein said.

He said this appears to be a different kind of momentum, unlike 2013 or 2012.

“What’s going on here right now is improvement in the labor market,” he said. “And because people are getting new jobs they need a place to stay, so it’s also feeding the housing market. Both are leading to more consumption, more investment, and still more hiring.”

He said people who bought a new car recently, because the old one wouldn’t run anymore, are finally starting to replace some old furniture and appliances as well, “so that’s going to kick the economy above its long-term potential.”

Goldstein said one key moving forward will be how good the back-to-school sales turn out to be in August.

“That’s going to be a marker,” he said. “Not only about if consumers are willing to spend money, but whether that can be sustained right into the holiday period. If we continue to see improvement in confidence, we could see another 10, another 20-point move, not next month but over the next few months.”

He also said this trend suggests “consumers are feeling not only that the economy is better, but that this time it’s for real, this time they can count on it, bank on it, spend on it.”

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