By Bernie Becker - 02/22/11 04:32 PM EST
The Conference Board announced Tuesday that its index of sentiment had risen to 70.4 in February, up from a revised figure of 64.8 for January. That figure is the highest, the group reported, since February 2008, when consumer confidence stood at 76.4.
Lynn Franco, director of the group’s consumer research center, said in a statement that the increase was because of growing optimism about the economy in the short term.
“Looking ahead, consumers are more positive about the economy and their income prospects, but feel somewhat mixed about employment conditions,” Franco added.
The February figures were higher than many economists appear to have expected, but still fall short of 90, generally believed to be the number that signals full consumer support of the economy. A Dow Jones Newswire survey of economists had predicted a February confidence number of 66, while the median projection from economists who talked to Bloomberg was 65.5.
The Conference Board also found some uncertainty among consumers about the job market, with the percentage of consumers who expected more jobs in the coming months and those who predicted fewer jobs both declining. Figures from the Labor Department, released earlier this month, put the unemployment rate for January at 9 percent, but also found the economy created fewer jobs than expected.
The confidence figures released Tuesday also found consumers feeling moderately better about the economy’s current condition.