Consumer confidence unexpectedly rises in July

NEW YORK — Consumer confidence unexpectedly rose in July as Americans were more optimistic about the short-term outlook than they were about their current conditions, according to a report released Tuesday by The Conference Group, private research group. The report showed that while consumers are feeling better about the economy, they remain wary about the labor markets.

The group’s index of consumer attitudes increased to 65.9 from an upwardly revised 62.7 in June, topping economists' expectations for a decline to 61.5. June was originally reported as 62.0.

Despite the increased confidence about short-term business and employment prospects, consumers have grown more pessimistic about their earnings, Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, said in a statement.

“Given the current economic environment -- in particular the weak labor market - consumer confidence is not likely to gain any significant momentum in the coming months,” Franco stated.

The expectations index improved to 79.1 from 73.4, while the present situation index edged down to 46.2 from 46.6.

Consumers were slightly less positive about current labor-market conditions. The board's survey showed 7.8% of respondents think jobs now are “plentiful,” down from 8.3% thinking that in June. Another 40.8% think jobs are "hard to get,” down only a bit from 41.2% last month.

Consumers are about split in their attitudes about future income. Only 14.2% expect their incomes to rise in the next six months, down from 15.3% in June. Another 14.8% expect their earnings to fall, down from 15.1% saying that in June.

The view in six months from now was more optimistic, with 17.6% expecting to see more jobs, up from 14.8% in June.