Consumer confidence rose, but doubts remain


Consumer confidence rose in early 2011, largely due to more optimistic expectations about future economic conditions, but confidence levels remain more negative than positive, according to a phone survey of 500 adult residents in Massachusetts, the State House News Service reported.

Mass Insight, which deployed Opinion Dynamics to perform the survey, said the results led to the second straight quarterly increase in the firm’s consumer confidence index, which logged in at 74, up from 65 in October 2010. Index readings below 100 mean residents are more negative than positive in terms of consumer confidence.

Forty percent of those surveyed this year believed general business conditions in their area would improve six months from now, a six-point increase from last October. Thirty-eight percent of respondents were optimistic about job growth in six months, up from 24 percent in October.

Those surveyed remained pessimistic about current conditions, with 58 percent believing jobs are hard to get. Also, 27 percent said yes when asked if anyone in their household had been “involuntarily unemployed” for more than 30 days, up from 26 percent last October. Forty-four percent thought it was a good time to buy major household items like refrigerators or televisions. Fifty-one percent of respondents said Massachusetts was heading in the right direction, up from 43 percent in October.