Consumer confidence back near 16-year high

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Consumers are very confident in the U.S. economy after years of big job gains that have reduced unemployment to a 16-year low.

Consumer confidence rose in July to the second highest level in 16 years as Americans shrugged off all the drama in President Trump’s Washington and took heart in the best labor market in a decade.

The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index rose to 121.1 this month from 117.3 in June. The increase exceeded the 116.9 forecast of economists polled by MarketWatch.

The high level of confidence in July was only surpassed by a 124.9 reading in March just as the Trump administration was getting underway. Confidence soared after Trump was elected last November, especially among Republicans and independents.

Although the president has struggled to enact a sweeping pro-business agenda, Americans are still the most confident they been in years.

A big reason is the creation of millions of jobs since 2010 that’s driven the unemployment rate down to as low as 4.3%. That’s the lowest level since the turn of the century.

Put another way, most Americans who want a full-time job can find one.

The “present” situation index, which tracks how consumers view the current health of the economy, rose to 147.9. from 143.9. That’s the highest level since mid-2001.

An index that tracks how consumers think the economy will perform six month from now increased to 103.3 from 99.6

“Overall, consumers foresee the current economic expansion continuing well into the second half of this year,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the board.

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