Americans' confidence in the economy surged last month to the highest level in nearly five years, as many were encouraged by an improving job market. The Conference Board says its consumer confidence index increased in October to 72.2. That's up from 70.3 in September and the highest reading since February 2008, two months into the Great Recession.
Consumers were more confident after seeing better job growth, the report noted. Hiring in July and August was stronger than first thought, and employers added a modest 114,000 jobs in September, the government reported last month. The survey is watched closely because consumer spending drives nearly 70% of economic activity. But the reading is still below 90, the level that indicates a healthy economy—which we last reached in December 2007. Click for a better-than-expected ADP jobs report, ahead of tomorrow's big report. (Read more consumer confidence stories.)