American consumers this month were feeling significantly more confident and have a much more favorable view of the economy than in March, according to a survey released on Tuesday.
The Conference Board reported its Consumer Confidence Index hit 121.7 in April, from 109.0 in February, a larger-than-expected monthly jump and its highest level since before the pandemic began in February 2020.
And the Present Situations Index jumped nearly 30 points to 139.6.
The rise came as the US economy is expected to recover this year with the help of Covid-19 vaccines and government stimulus measures, after the pandemic caused a historic downturn in 2020.
“Consumers’ assessment of current conditions improved significantly in April, suggesting the economic recovery strengthened further” in the early part of the second quarter, said Lynn Franco, the Conference Board’s senior director of economic indicators.
Signs of optimism were seen throughout the report, with 37.9 percent of respondents saying jobs are “plentiful,” up more than 11 percentage points, while those saying jobs are “hard to get” fell more than five points to 13.2 percent.
The share of respondents claiming business conditions were “bad” fell to 24.8 percent from 30.1 percent in March, while those characterizing conditions as “good” rose five points to 23.3 percent.
“The receipt of the latest round of stimulus payments, coupled with the improving Covid picture as vaccinations rise, has made people feel much better about the economy and their household finances today,” Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics said.
However, Shepherdson noted consumers’ expectations for the months ahead saw little improvement, with the percentage of consumers expecting better conditions over the next six months increasingly only slightly and those expecting them to worsen unchanged after falling for several months.
Consumers’ inflations expectations for the next year remained elevated but unchanged from March despite fears from some economists that the massive government stimulus measures rolled out to blunt the downturn would cause prices to rise.