The numbers: Consumer confidence leaped again in April to a 14-month high as rising vaccinations, falling coronavirus cases and a hiring surge eased pandemic-related anxieties.
The index of consumer confidence climbed to 121.7 this month from a revised 109 in the prior month, the Conference Board said Tuesday. That’s the highest level since February 2020.
Economists polled by Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal had forecast a 113 reading for April.
Confidence still hasn’t returned to pre-pandemic levels, however. The index stood close to a 20-year high of 132.6 shortly before the crisis began.
What happened: Part of the survey that tracks how consumers feel about the economy right now surged to a 13-month peak of 139.6 in April from 110.1 in the prior month.
“Consumers were more upbeat about their income prospects, perhaps due to the improving job market and the recent round of stimulus checks,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the nonprofit board.
Another gauge that assesses how Americans view the next six months —the so-called future expectations index — only rose slightly to 109.8 from 108.3.
That’s still the highest level in almost two years, though.
Big picture: The economy has regained momentum this year largely due to the increasing number of people being vaccinated. That’s allowed states to ease restrictions, encouraged businesses to create more jobs and given Americans more confidence to resume somewhat normal lives.
What also helped was another massive dose of federal stimulus last month that raised unemployment benefits and included $1,400 checks for most Americans.
If coronavirus cases keep falling, economists predict, U.S. growth will accelerate even faster through the summer months and beyond.
What they are saying? “All in all, this was the best consumer confidence report since the pandemic started last spring,” said Neil Dutta, head of economics at Renaissance Macro Research.
“Consumer attitudes are likely to keep improving over coming months as the economy continues to reopen and job and income prospects brighten,” said chief economist Rubeela Farooqi of High Frequency Economics.