The Conference Board, a private research group, said its index of consumer confidence rose to 53.5 in August from a revised 51.0 in July, first reported as 50.4. The August reading was better than the 51.0 expected by economists surveyed by Dow Jones.

The present situation index, a gauge of consumers' assessment of current economic conditions, fell to 24.9 from a revised 26.4 in July, first reported as 26.1.

Consumer expectations for economic activity over the next six months rebounded to 72.5 in August, after plunging to a revised 67.5, originally reported as 66.6.

“Expectations about future business and labor market conditions have brightened somewhat, but overall, consumers remain apprehensive about the future,” said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center.

Only 3.8% of respondent thought jobs were “plentiful,” down from 4.4% in July, while 45.7% viewed jobs as “hard to get” this month, up from 45.1% last month.

On the positive side, the percentage of consumers expecting more jobs in the months ahead rose to 14.6% from 14.2%, while the proportion expecting fewer jobs slipped to 19.4% from 20.9%.

Nonetheless, the report showed 10.6% of consumers expect their incomes to increase in the next six months, while a larger 16.1% expected a pay cut.