CFPB shuts down California credit repair company for lying to consumers

CFPB shuts down California credit repair company for lying to consumers

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Prime Marketing Holdings, a California credit repair company, was already on the radar of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as several of its associated companies were fined earlier this year by the bureau for misleading consumers and charging illegal fees for credit repair services.

Back in June, the CFPB announced that Prime CreditIMC CapitalCommercial Credit Consultants and Park View Law, formerly known as Prime Law Experts, and several executives in charge of the various companies will pay more than $2 million for the alleged illegal actions.

Several of those companies partnered with Prime Marketing Holdings, which operated under several names, including: Park View Credit, National Credit Advisors and Credit Experts.

Now, the CFPB is doling out its punishment against Prime Marketing and banishing the company from the credit repair business.

The CFPB announced Wednesday that it filed a proposed final judgment that would resolve its previous actions against Prime Marketing Holdings. The bureau filed a lawsuit against Prime Marketing, claiming that the company charged illegal advance fees and misled consumers about the cost and effectiveness of its services and the nature of its money-back guarantee.

The final judgment would permanently ban Prime Marketing from doing business in the credit repair industry and require the company to pay a $150,000 civil money penalty.

According to the CFPB, between Oct. 1, 2014 and at least June 30, 2017, the company charged over 50,000 consumers more than $20 million for credit repair services.

But in the bureau’s lawsuit, which was filed back in September 2016, the CFPB accused Prime Marketing of making “misleading and unsubstantiated statements about its ability to improve consumers’ credit scores by removing negative information from their credit reports.”

The company also “misrepresented and failed to disclose the limitations of its money-back guarantee,” the CFPB said.

According to the CFPB’s complaint, Prime Marketing’s customers included people who were seeking to obtain a mortgage, loan, refinancing or other extension of credit.

The CFPB claimed that at times, Prime Marketing represented during calls to consumers that it is a “mortgage affiliate” or otherwise represented that it can help consumers get a mortgage.

The CFPB said that Prime Marketing allegedly made a number of false promises to its customers, including (taken directly from the CFPB):

  • Charging illegal advance fees: Prime Marketing Holdings charged a variety of fees for its services before demonstrating that the promised results had been achieved as required by law. Specifically, the company charged consumers initial fees that it, at times, claimed were required to obtain special credit reports for consumers. The company also charged set-up fees totaling hundreds of dollars and monthly fees that often equaled $89.99 per month.
  • Misleading consumers about the benefits of its credit repair services: Prime Marketing Holdings misrepresented its ability to remove negative entries on consumers’ credit reports. The company also misrepresented to customers that its credit repair services would, or likely would, result in a substantial increase to consumers’ credit scores, generally by an average of 100 points. The company lacked a reasonable basis for making these claims.
  • Misrepresenting the costs of its services: In some cases, Prime Marketing Holdings failed to disclose to consumers during sales calls that they would be charged a monthly fee.
  • Failing to disclose limits on “money-back guarantee”: Prime Marketing Holdings misrepresented that it offered a money-back guarantee if consumers were unhappy with the results of the company’s services. The company also failed to clearly and conspicuously disclose that the guarantee had significant limitations, including that the consumer had to pay for at least six months of services to be eligible for the guarantee.

To take effect, the proposed final judgment needs approval by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

“Today we are taking action to shut down a company that deceived consumers into paying for credit repair services that did not live up to the company’s promises,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said. “We remain committed to taking action against companies that mislead consumers into paying illegal fees with false promises.”

 

Direct homebuyer Opendoor getting into mortgage business

Direct homebuyer Opendoor getting into mortgage business

Digital house

Late last year, Opendoor, an online marketplace that buys homes directly from homeowners, announced that it raised $210 million to fund the company’s expansion beyond the two markets where it initially launched.

The company first began operating in Phoenix and Dallas-Fort Worth, but back in December, Opendoor said that it planned to expand to 10 new markets this year.

The company now operates in Las Vegas and Atlanta.

And as it turns out, that’s not the only way that Opendoor plans to expand; the company is also getting into the mortgage business.

The company is currently piloting a mortgage program in Phoenix, touting its ability to save homebuyers when they buy one of Opendoor’s properties.

Opendoor, which launched in 2014, operates by buying homes directly from sellers, then turning around and selling the homes on its own marketplace.

A homeowner seeking to sell their home can go to Opendoor, enter details about their home, and get a near-instant price quote for the home.

If the seller accepts, Opendoor then allows the seller to close on the sale when they’re ready, rather than on the timeline of another buyer.

From there, Opendoor makes any necessary repairs or upgrades, then sells the home through its marketplace.

According to the details provided by the company, more than 3,500 Phoenix homeowners have bought and sold homes with Opendoor. While that figure may not be earth-shattering, consider the company’s growth in just the last few years.

During a HousingWire webinar on Wednesday, Daren Blomquist, the senior vice president of communications for ATTOM Data Solutions, spoke about Opendoor and similar “instant offer” companies.

As shown in the chart below, taken from the webinar and courtesy of ATTOM, Opendoor’s growth over the last three years is significant.

Instant offers in Phoenix

The company also claims that it is the top listing agent in the Phoenix area, and said that 10,000 “home shoppers” visit the company’s site each month.

The company now says it’s taking a similar approach to the mortgage business.

“Mortgages are typically a huge pain point in the buying process, but now Opendoor is extending the same speed and service from the buying and selling experience to mortgages, with an added boost of cost savings for the customer,” the company said in statement.

Buyers using Opendoor Mortgage will be eligible for a 1% discount off the purchase of an Opendoor home in the form of a credit towards closing costs.

“We’re fearless about reinventing every step of the transaction to put more dollars in the pockets of our customers,” the company said.

The company said that buyers using Opendoor Mortgage can get prequalified in 30 minutes and close on a home on their timeline, just as they can when selling their home to Opendoor.

The company also claims that a buyer can close on an Opendoor Mortgage in as little as 15 days. According to the company, every buyer gets a dedicated loan expert, which allows them to lock in a mortgage tailored to their financial situation.

The company also launched its own title insurance operation, Opendoor Title, to cover all parts of the real estate transaction.

“We launched Opendoor Mortgage and Opendoor Title so we could handle the process for our customers from start-to-finish and ensure a streamlined transaction,” the company said.

While Opendoor is getting into the mortgage business, the company is not acting as the lender for its mortgage program. Rather, Opendoor will act as a licensed mortgage broker that works with correspondent lenders.

Back in December, the company said that it was handling $60 million in home volume each month and served more 4,000 homeowners since it launched.

Opendoor’s latest round of funding valued the company at $1 billion, making it the latest billion-dollar company to attempt to be a true one-stop-shop for the homebuying process.

Earlier this year, Redfin revealed that it recently began buying homes directly from homeowners with a service called “Redfin Now.” That news came on the heels of Redfin launching Redfin Mortgage, which added a mortgage-lending operation into Redfin’s existing digital-focused real estate brokerage and title businesses.

Now, count Opendoor among the companies that are trying to do it all in the real estate process.

Here are the top 10 metros where Millennials are moving

Here are the top 10 metros where Millennials are moving

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Despite the idea that Millennials move around and don’t want to be tied down, young people today are actually less likely to move than previous generations.

In fact, data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows the mobility rate for young people currently sits at the lowest rate in 50 years. But SmartAsset, a financial data and technology company, analyzed the migration patterns of those 20 to 34-year-olds Millennials who did choose to move.

SmartAsset used data from the 2015 U.S. Census Bureau’s 1-Year American Community Survey to look at migration data on 218 cities, all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

For states, the study showed New York is losing its appeal, as it saw the biggest loss in Millennials, with 29,000 moving out.

On the other end of the spectrum, Texas moved to the top of the list, becoming the No. 1 state for Millennial migration. It received 33,098 new Millennials in 2015. SmartAsset’s study showed that the four states with the largest number of migrated Millennials — Texas, North Carolina, Colorado and Florida — all boast some of the nation’s fastest growing economies.

As far as cities, there are a number of surprises on this list of top 10 cities where Millennials are moving. The net number of migrants is listed for each:

10. St. Paul, Minnesota – 4,144

Moved in: 32,424

Moved out: 28,280

9. Denver, Colorado – 4,221

Moved in: 64,976

Moved out: 60,755

Colorado

8. Fort Collins, Colorado – 4,315

Moved in: 24,847

Moved out: 20,532

7. San Francisco, California – 4,833

Moved in: 62,399

Moved out: 57,566

san francisco houses

6. Spring Valley, Nevada – 5,347

Moved in: 13,546

Moved out: 8,199

5. Fargo, North Dakota – 5,990

Moved in: 19,375

Moved out: 13,385

4. Norfolk, Virginia – 7,198

Moved in: 33,795

Moved out: 26,597

3. Oakland, California – 7,494

Moved in: 26,456

Moved out: 18,962

california

2. Seattle, Washington – 9,886

Moved in: 86,641

Moved out: 76,755

1. Charlotte, North Carolina – 10,707

Moved in: 71,240

Moved out: 60,533

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Former Michigan housing commission exec admits to stealing Section 8 funds

Former Michigan housing commission exec admits to stealing Section 8 funds

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The former executive director of an affordable housing commission in Michigan admitted in court this week to stealing more than $336,000 in federal funds, including $162,000 that was meant for the Section 8 housing program.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan, Lorena Loren, the former executive director of the St. Clair Housing Commission, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to conspiring to commit federal program fraud.

In pleading guilty, Loren admitted to conspiring with several family members to federal funds provided by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to the St. Clair commission.

In addition to stealing money that was meant for the HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher program, otherwise known as Section 8 housing, which allows low-income families to lease a rental property with help from the government, Loren also admitted to taking $166,000 from the commission’s operating budget.

According to court documents, Loren used the stolen money to buy adult and infant clothing, furniture, food, beauty supplies, medications, other household items, and alcoholic beverages for herself and her family members.

Court documents showed that between August 2008 and August 2016, Loren fraudulently entered into some Section 8 contracts that directly benefitted her and nearly all of her immediate family members.

Specifically, Loren falsified Section 8 housing contracts and lease agreements by using nominees for lease agreements for Loren’s son. Additionally, Loren and several relatives falsely claimed to own rental properties where former Section 8 tenants lived.

Then, Loren fraudulently issued Section 8 rental subsidy payments to those relatives, and in the names of former Section 8 tenants who were no longer in the program.

Loren also directed her family members to establish joint bank accounts to allow other family members to access to the stolen money.

Additionally, between 2010 and 2016, Loren used the commission’s two credit cards to make unauthorized purchases of personal items for herself and her relatives from Amazon, Walmart and Sam’s Clubstores.

According to court documents, Loren had some of the unauthorized purchases, approximately $60,000 of the nearly $166,000 total, sent to some of the same relatives who were involved in the Section 8 housing scheme.

As executive director of the commission, Loren had control of its operating budget and used the budget to pay the credit card bills that contained her unauthorized purchases.

Loren also admitted to taking another $8,500 from the commission’s petty cash.

As part of her guilty plea, Loren agreed to pay $336,240.62 in restitution to HUD.

Loren also faces a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for her crimes.

“At such a critical time for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, with programs that are vital to the well-being of so many in our communities, it is critical that those entrusted to public service are completely dedicated to those in need,” Brad Gary, special agent in charge of HUD, said. “The HUD Office of Inspector General is committed to partnering with Federal prosecutors and fellow law enforcement to aggressively pursue those engaged in activities that harm HUD’s Public Housing programs.”

Executive Conversation: Javid Jaberi on a healthy real estate marketplace

Executive Conversation: Javid Jaberi on a healthy real estate marketplace

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Executive Conversations is a HousingWire web series that profiles powerful people in the financial industry, highlighting the operations and the people that make this sector tick. In the latest installment, we sit down with Javid Jaberi, executive vice president of single family residential operations at Auction.com, to discuss what it takes to establish a healthy real estate marketplace and what the company has learned in the past decade.

Q: What are buyers and sellers looking for in a real estate marketplace today?

Javid JaberiA: Buyers and sellers alike are looking for greater transparency and more information relating to the property and market intelligence. Buyers recognize the value of our marketplace for its unparalleled volume and penetration of distressed real estate, but they also value the access we provide specific to a property’s condition, the neighborhood it’s located in, and, if it’s inhabited, the tenants.

This greater level of intelligence into the property builds trust and confidence within buyers, enabling them to make more informed decisions about what to bid on and how to best leverage the asset should they win.

For sellers, increased transparency means valuable insight into buyer interest on a particular property. A seller’s ultimate goal is to dispose of the asset quickly and efficiently, resulting in the best outcome on investment. Our marketplace generates more qualified buyers to compete in a marketplace that aligns with both seller and buyer objectives.

Q: How do you determine whether a real estate marketplace is healthy or not?

A: As market conditions change, marketplaces should provide an accurate read on pricing and the efficiency of selling. In a healthy marketplace like Auction.com, buyers continue to find the opportunities they seek, sellers receive market prices and qualified bids early and often, and the process of transferring ownership through the marketplace remains effective and risk-free. We see it every day as buyers and sellers interact successfully through our marketplace.

Q: What then are the keys to creating and operating a healthy real estate marketplace?

A: First and foremost, it is created through the expertise of our staff and the rich relationship with our partners in the 3,100 counties we serve nationwide. These relationships help us accurately — and quickly — process assets through from onboarding an asset onto our platform to the successful closing of sale while ensuring all seller and legal requirements are met.

This level of detail requires an in-house team that has developed proven strategic processes and perfected the engagement with buyers and sellers beyond just selling the asset.

The marketplace must also have the capacity to increase demand through a scalable platform, one that provides a wide-array of offerings to meet the wants of potential buyers. Economies of scale are also important as a healthy marketplace is one that supports a large population of both buyers and sellers.

At Auction.com, we work to ensure we earn the trust of our buyers and sellers by providing educational resources to buyers (both new and returning), and sharing the latest industry insights with our sellers in order to help them create the best disposition strategy for their portfolio.

Q: What has Auction.com done differently that has led to the creation of such a marketplace?

A: First, we’ve spent the last 10 years learning what the market needs and how to deliver it. We have more experience in this business than anyone and it shows in the platform we’ve built and the number of users we have attracted.

Beyond that, it requires a culture that fosters continuous improvement. Things change so rapidly in our industry and neither buyers nor sellers have the time or resources to keep up-to-date on all of the constant changes. So they rely on us for that and we have to be up to that challenge. That takes great people and we believe we have the best working for us.

You can train anyone to learn a new skill, but the level of commitment and dedication that our team have simply can’t be taught, and it is taking our company and our clients “Beyond the Bid” to something much more powerful in the industry.

GDP estimate surges to 3% in second quarter

GDP estimate surges to 3% in second quarter

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Real gross domestic product surged in the second quarter to a level not seen since the first quarter of 2015, according to the second estimatefrom the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The second estimate shows GDP in the second quarter increased to 3%. This is up from the advanced estimate’s 2.6% and up from the 1.4% increase in the first quarter.

In fact, the chart below shows this increase marks the highest GDP level since the first quarter of 2015.

GDP

(Source: BEA)

Recently, HousingWire examined whether President Donald Trump is on track to meet his campaign promise of 4% GDP. This increase puts the administration one step closer to that goal.

However, one expert explained this increase may not last.

“The American consumer was behind second quarter GDP numbers being revised up from 2.6% to 3%: Spending was revised to 3.3% from 2.8%, and consumers account for two-thirds of GDP,” said Robert Frick, Navy Federal Credit Union corporate economist. “But is it sustainable? Given wage gains are meager, and consumers are saving less and charging more, this may be a temporary surge.”

“Not coincidentally, today the ADP Employment report revised up its job numbers,” Frick said. “Americans are optimistic given the jobs situation, and that may be what’s behind increased spending.”

Real gross domestic income increased 2.9% in the second quarter, up from the first quarter’s increase of 2.7%. The average of real GDP and real GDI, a supplemental measure a measure of U.S. economic activity that equally weights GDP and GDI, increased 3% in the second quarter, up from an increase of 2% in the first quarter.

Here are updates to the previous estimate:

Current-dollar GDP: Increased to 4%, up from last estimate’s 3.6%

Gross domestic purchases price index: Held steady at 0.8%

Personal consumption expenditures: Held steady at 0.3%

ADP: Employment increases 237,000 in August

ADP: Employment increases 237,000 in August

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Employment is set to boom in August, surpassing last month’s increase, according to the ADP and Moody’s Analytics National Employment Report.

The report predicts an increase of 237,000 jobs in August, up significantly from last month’s prediction of 178,000 and even up from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ report which showed an increaseof 209,000.

The chart below shows August’s prediction compared to previous months, however, as the numbers from last month show, ADP’s prediction is not always in line with the employment report’s final number.

ADP

(Source: ADP, Moody’s Analytics)

“The job market continues to power forward,” Moody’s Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi said. “Job creation is strong across nearly all industries, company sizes. Mounting labor shortages are set to get much worse.”

It’s been a problem facing the housing industry for some time. Back in January, Bill Banfield, Quicken Loans executive vice president of capital markets said: “While overall confidence in the housing market and economy continues to strengthen, a shortage of skilled workers is starting to press on the industry.”

In short, we are creating all these jobs and don’t have enough builders in the workforce to fill them, which is applying pressure on housing starts, which Banfield aforementioned.

“The initial BLS employment estimate is often very weak in August due to measurement problems, and is subsequently revised higher,” Zandi said. “The ADP number is not impacted by those problems.”

Among other increases, the report predicted a boom in new construction jobs. The goods-producing sector is set to increase by 33,000 jobs overall, with changes in the following areas:

Natural resources and mining: Decrease 1,000

Construction: Increase 18,000

Manufacturing: Increase 16,000

The service-providing sector is set to increase by 204,000 jobs, with changes in these areas:

Trade, transportation and utilities: Increase 56,000

Information: Decrease 3,000

Financial activities: Increase 11,000

Professional and business: Increase 39,000

Education and health: Increase 45,000

Leisure and hospitality: Increase 51,000

Other services: Increase 5,000

“In August, the goods-producing sector saw the best performance in months with solid increases in both construction and manufacturing,” said Ahu Yildirmaz, ADP Research Institute vice president and co-head.

“Additionally, the trade industry pulled ahead to lead job gains across all industries, adding the most jobs it has seen since the end of 2016,” Yildirmaz said. “This could be an industry to watch as consumer spending and wage growth improves.”

Majority of Hurricane Harvey homeowners uninsured and face billions in damages

Majority of Hurricane Harvey homeowners uninsured and face billions in damages

Hurricane Harvey photo 1

Hurricane Harvey hit South Texas as a Category 4 storm, the first major hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. since 2005.

In addition to the lives tragically lost, estimates show the damage could total in the tens of billions of dollars, according to a report, RMBS 2.0 Exposure to Hurricane Harvey Affected Counties, released by Kroll Bond Rating Agency.

CoreLogic, a leading global property information, analytics and data-enabled solutions provider, conducted an analysis for the flooding occurring due to Hurricane Harvey. The analysis showed 52% of residential and commercial properties in the Houston metro are at high or moderate risk of flooding, but are not in a Special Flood Hazard Area as identified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

By Monday morning, FEMA declared 24 counties disaster areas, the state of Louisiana declared five counties and the state of Texas declared 54 disaster areas.

Across 101 KBRA-rated transactions, with an estimated total outstanding collateral balance of $653 billion, KBRA estimates that 2.8%, or about $18.3 billion, of the collateral in its rated transactions are located in one of the aforementioned disaster declared counties.

KBRA used the Texas and Louisiana declared disaster areas, specific to Hurricane Harvey as of Monday, to identify properties in the related securitizations. Within these counties, the process for identifying exposures could overestimate exposure relative to actual damage as effects of the storm may be localized within a given county. However, given that the storm is still active in the area, the affected area may increase in size through the coming weeks.

The map below shows the exposure predictions from KBRA:

Hurricane Harvey

(Source: KBRA)

The hurricane is expected to cause flood damage of at least $35 billion, according to Robert Hunter, Consumer Federation of Americadirector of insurance. While this is about the same level as Hurricane Katrina, most Louisiana homeowners had flood insurance, according to an article by Bernard Condon and Ken Sweet for USA Today.

Hunter estimates only about 20% of homeowners affected by Harvey have coverage, according to the article.

“Hurricane Harvey has claimed lives and has been estimated to cause billions of dollars to residential and commercial properties,” KBRA wrote. “Our sincere thoughts go out those who are affected by this disaster.”

Click to Enlarge

Hurricane Harvey

(Source: KBRA)

The housing industry continues its effort to help victims of the hurricane. For example, Wells Faro and JPMorgan Chase each donated $1 million for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Click here to see what other companies are doing to help the hurricane victims.

Economists: Case-Shiller increase represents highest gain in 3 years

Economists: Case-Shiller increase represents highest gain in 3 years

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June’s S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index showed home prices increased 5.8% annually, and experts explained this increase is the largest jump in the past three years.

Experts explained that, unsurprisingly, this increase is due to the low levels of housing inventory. One expert also predicted home prices will continue to increase throughout 2017, but explained why the market is not on the verge of seeing its next home price boom.

“The 5.8% annual gain in house prices reported by Case-Shiller in June was the highest in three-years, as a shortage of inventory boosted prices even as active housing demand has edged back,” Capital Economics Property Economist Matthew Pointon said. “Tight market conditions will drive house prices higher over the remainder of the year, although cautious appraisals and tougher mortgage lending regulations will act to prevent a dangerous house price boom.”

The chart below from Trulia shows the percentage of annual change each month dating back to January 2012. It shows the annual increase continues to trend slightly higher each month.

Case-Shiller

(Source: Trulia)

One expert explained these increasing prices and high demand represent a new normal for the housing market.

“It’s a new normal in the housing market,” Trulia Senior Economist Cheryl Young said. “Ever rising prices being met by insatiable demand. Demand remains unimpeded by exceptionally low inventory as homebuyers enjoyed strong job growth and low mortgage rates, driving prices ever higher.”

And she agreed increasing home prices are not likely to let up any time soon, warning homebuyers to be on the lookout for yet another month of increases.

“Prospective homebuyer frustrations are sure to mount with another month of year-over-year increases in home prices as the Case-Shiller index rose 5.8% in June over last year,” Young said.

Monday, a new report from First American Financial Corp. showed that while home prices continue to increase, housing became more affordable in June due to rising wages and falling interest rates.

Consumer economic optimism hovers at 16-year high

Consumer economic optimism hovers at 16-year high

house key background

Americans’ confidence in the present state of the economy increased in August, and remains near its 16-year high, according to the Consumer Confidence Survey conducted by The Conference Board by Nielsen, a provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch.

The index increased to 122.9 in August, up from 120 in July. The increase in the Present Situation Index was even higher as it rose from 145.4 to 151.2, and the Expectations Index increased to 103, up from 104 in July.

In 1985, the index was set to 100, representing the index’s benchmark. This value is adjusted monthly based on results of a household survey of consumers’ opinions on current conditions and future economic expectations. Opinions on current conditions make up 40% of the index, while expectations of future conditions make up 60%.

“Consumer confidence increased in August following a moderate improvement in July,” said Lynn Franco, The Conference Board director of economic indicators. “Consumers’ more buoyant assessment of present-day conditions was the primary driver of the boost in confidence, with the Present Situation Index continuing to hover at a 16-year high, July 2001 – 151.3.”

“Consumers’ short-term expectations were relatively flat, though still optimistic, suggesting that they do not anticipate an acceleration in the pace of economic activity in the months ahead,” Franco said.

Consumers’ view of current conditions continued to improve in August as those who said business conditions are good increased from 32.5% to 34.5% and those who said conditions are bad decreased slightly from 13.5% to 13.1%.

Americans also held a more positive outlook on the labor market. Those who stated jobs are plentiful increased from 33.2% to 35.4%, while those who answered jobs are hard to get decreased to 17.3%, down from last month’s 18.7%.

Consumer optimism in the short-term outlook remained flat in August as the percent of Americans who expect business conditions to improve over the next six months decreased slightly from 22.4% to 19.6%. However, this was offset by those expecting business conditions to worsen, which also decreased from 8.4% to 7.3% in August.

The outlook on the labor market also showed mixed results. The portion of those expecting more jobs in the months ahead dropped from 18.5% to 17.1% in August, but those who expect few jobs also decreased slightly from 13.2% to 13%. The percentage of Americans who expect an improvement in their pay increased slightly from 20% to 20.9% as those expecting their pay to decline decreased from 9.5% to 7.8%.

Other measures of consumer confidence also increased in August, though they are not above their 16-year high. The Survey of Consumers conducted by the University of Michigan showed consumer sentiment increased to its highest level since January.