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US consumer confidence improved in May on greater optimism about hiring, income

Consumer Confidence-1.jpg

In this photo taken May 14, 2014, Jody Dickman, of Pittsburgh walks in the Shadyside section of Pittsburgh after shopping for a workout outfit at an Athleta store. The private Conference Board reports on consumer confidence for May on Tuesday, May 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) (The Associated Press)

U.S. consumers were slightly more confident in the economy in May than in April, partly because they are more optimistic about future hiring and income gains.

The Conference Board says that its confidence index rose to 83 from 81.7 in April, which was revised lower. That's the second-highest reading since January 2008, just after the Great Recession began. Only March was higher at 83.9.

But the index still isn't back to healthy levels. It regularly topped 90 before the recession.

Just over one-fifth of Americans expect their incomes to grow over the next six months, according to the survey, the highest level since December 2007.

Consumer sentiment is a closely watched figure, as consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of the nation's economic activity.

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