The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index® rose to 114.8 (1985=100) in February, up from 111.6 in January, the highest it has been since before the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001 and the ensuing economic slowdown.

The Present Situation Index rose from 130.0 to 133.4 and the Expectations Index increased from 99.3 last month to 102.4.

“Consumer confidence increased in February and remains at a 15-year high (July 2001, 116.3),” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “Consumers rated current business and labor market conditions more favorably this month than in January. Expectations improved regarding the short-term outlook for business, and to a lesser degree jobs and income prospects. Overall, consumers expect the economy to continue expanding in the months ahead.”

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions held relatively steady in February. Those saying business conditions are “good” declined slightly from 29.0% to 28.7%, while those saying business conditions are “bad” also decreased, from 15.9% to 13.2%. Consumers’ assessment of the labor market was also mixed. Those stating jobs are “plentiful” declined from 27.1% to 26.2%, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” also decreased, from 21.1% to 20.3%.

Consumers were more optimistic about the short-term outlook in February. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased from 22.9% to 24.0%, however those expecting business conditions to worsen also rose slightly from 10.8% to 11.1%.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was also moderately more upbeat. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead increased from 19.7% to 20.4%, while those anticipating fewer jobs declined from 14.4% to 13.6%. The percentage of consumers expecting their incomes to increase rose marginally from 18.1% to 18.3 percent, while the proportion expecting a decrease declined from 9.4% to 8.2%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey®, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen.