WASHINGTON -- Americans felt slightly better about the short-term economic outlook this month with consumer confidence rebounding unexpectedly after slipping in July, the Conference Board said Tuesday.
The group's index rose to 81.5 in August from 81 the previous month. Analysts had expected it to drop again to about 79.
The index had been 82.1 in June, the highest level in more than five years.
"Consumers were moderately more upbeat about business, job and earning prospects," said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators for the Conference Board.
"In fact, income expectations, which had declined sharply earlier this year with the payroll tax hike, have rebounded to their highest level in 2½ years," she said.
But while there was more optimism about growth over the next six months, consumers were more pessimistic in August about the current state of the economy.
The percentage of respondents who said business conditions were good dropped to 18.4% from 20.8% in July.
And there was a mixed view of the labor market -- 11.4% said jobs were plentiful, compared with 12.3% in July. But those who agreed jobs were "hard to get" dropped to 33% in August from 35.2% the previous month.
Consumers had a better view of job growth over the next six months. Those expecting more jobs rose to 17.6% this month from 16.7% in July. And the percentage of respondents anticipating their income would increase rose to 17.4% from 15.7% in July.