- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Americans regained some confidence in the U.S economy last month after a rough February, during which winter storms created problems for shoppers, job-seekers and other key market factors.

The Conference Board said Tuesday that Consumer Confidence increased in March to 52.5, after losing roughly 11 points in February.

The March report exceeded analysts’ expectations, but consumers remain cautious about a full economic recover, according to the private, New York-based research firm.

“Consumers continue to express concern about current business and labor conditions,” said Lynn Franco, director of the board’s Consumer Research Center, “and their outlook for the next six months is still rather pessimistic. Overall, consumer confidence levels have not changed significantly since last spring.”

A confidence reading of 90 indicates that consumers think the economy is healthy.

The report found that consumers in the sampling of 5,000 U.S. households were more upbeat about the overall economy.

Roughly 42.8 percent said conditions were “bad” last month, compared with 45.1 percent in February.

However, they were less enthusiastic about jobs being added to the economy, as high unemployment remains among their biggest concerns.

The percentage of consumers who said jobs are “hard to get” declined just 1.5 percent from February to March, from 47.3 percent to 45.8 percent.

The unemployment rate is at 9.7 percent, and the Labor Department on Friday will release the March number.

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