California consumer confidence index hits record high after biggest jump in 7 years


California shoppers bucked a national trend, pushing up one consumer optimism measure to a new high in its biggest surge since 2012.

The Conference Boards consumer confidence index for California rose to a record 138.2 for March, up from 107.1 in February and 130.3 a year ago. That is the largest one-month increase since July 2012 and the highest reading in Conference board state data that dates to 2007.

Driving Californias good vibes are better feelings about consumers “present situation.” That statewide index hit 177.6 for March vs. 147.9 in February and 158.6 a year ago. Californians also have a sunny outlook — the expectations index hit a record 111.9 for March — up sharply from Februarys 80 but just a smidge above 111.4 of a year earlier.

Workers across the Golden State are enjoying slower-yet-continued hiring and rising wages. Increased consumer optimism could help explain what appears to be a decent start to the annual homebuying rush and should be good news to folks who earn a living selling goods and services to the masses.

Californians in March are decidedly more upbeat than most Americans.

Nationally, this consumer confidence measure was 124.1 for March — down from 131.4 in February and 127 a year ago. Of the seven other big states the Conference Board tracks for consumer confidence, optimism was up in only Michigan and Illinois — both, like California, to record highs. Shoppers got skittish in Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York.

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