SILVER SPRING, Ms (AP) – US consumer confidence rose again in February as the acceleration of COVID-19 vaccines raises hopes for Americans who have lived with unprecedented restrictions for a year.
The conference board said on Tuesday that its consumer confidence index rose to 91.3.3 from 88.9 in January.
However, despite the improved spread of vaccines, consumers are more optimistic about current conditions than about the near future. The current situation index, which is based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions, rose from 85.5 last month to 92.
But the expectation index, based on the short-term outlook for consumer income, business and working conditions, fell slightly from 90.2 in January to 90.8. This is a bit of a surprise for economists, as many experts have predicted that widespread vaccinations և hot weather can create relative summer normalcy.
“It was conceivable that the possibility of delivering the vaccine to all Americans would increase confidence in the future,” said O’Neill Lee, an economist at BMO Capital Markets. “It is not like that this month.” Lee said he believes consumer confidence will continue to improve in the coming months as more people get vaccinated and businesses reopen.
The percentage of consumers who say that business conditions are “good” has increased from 15.8% to 16.5%, while the “bad” statement of business conditions has fallen from 42.4% to 39.9%. Consumer views on the labor market have also improved.
Over the next six months, the percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve fell from 34.1% to 31%. Those who expected the situation to deteriorate also refused.
Consumer assessments of the labor market were also mixed. Although few respondents said they expected more job opportunities in the coming months, those who thought there would be fewer prospects also experienced a decline.
Slightly fewer consumers expect revenue to increase over the next six months, but few see their revenue decline.
The Consumer Confidence Index, closely monitored by businesses and economists as consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of US economic activity, was almost 100 more than four years before the epidemic hit last spring. After that, the standard mostly falls in the 80s and 90s, except for two months this fall.
The average daily mortality and incidence of COVID-19 has dropped dramatically over the past few weeks. Deaths from the virus fell from more than 4,000 on some days in January to an average of less than 1,900 a day.
Although winter weather has hampered vaccination efforts over the past few weeks, supplies are being met, and experts expect the distribution to accelerate as the weather improves.