NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- A key measure of consumer confidence jumped to its highest level in 18 months, according to a report released Tuesday.
The Conference Board, a New York-based business research group, said Tuesday that its Consumer Confidence Index rose to 57.9 in April. That's up from a downwardly revised 52.3 in March.
Economists were expecting the index to increase to 53.5, according to a Briefing.com consensus survey. The measure is closely watched because consumer spending makes up two-thirds of the nation's economic activity.
Concerns about business and job market conditions continued to ease, said Conference Board director Lynn Franco in a statement. She added that "continued job growth" will really be the key to keeping the momentum going.
Despite April's increase, the index still remains at historically low levels. An overall reading above 90 indicates the economy is solid, and 100 or above indicates strong growth.
The report is based on a survey mailed to a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households.
Job market outlook: The percentage of respondents expecting more jobs in the next six months rose to 18% in April from 14.1% in the prior month.
Similarly, those saying jobs are "hard to get" fell to 45% from 46.3% in March, while responses that jobs are "plentiful" ticked up to 4.8% from 4%.
Business conditions: Consumers anticipating business conditions to improve over the next six months increased to 19.8% from 18% in March, the report said.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk had said previously that the automaker would become "cash-flow positive" this year. But in a letter to shareholders Wednesday, Musk signaled that won't be the case after all. More
The jobs market is near full employment with 14 million jobs added since early 2010. Gas prices are cheap. Home prices are rising. The stock market is near record highs. So why does everyone think the economy stinks? More
Oakland-based tech startup Clef hosts dinners for the local community in a bid to resist gentrification and unite all types of industries that make up the city. More
In 1998, Ntsiki Biyela won a scholarship to study wine making. Now she's about to launch her own brand. More