Consumers are more confident about the labor market than any time in the past 17 years, according to the latest report from the Conference Board.

The research firm revealed 42.4 percent of consumers surveyed in May said jobs are “plentiful,” which is the highest level since March 2001.

The rising sentiment on jobs without similar wage gains is perplexing economists and executives.

Earlier this month the unemployment rate in April hit an 18-year low, while wage growth went roughly sideways at a 2.6 percent annualized gain.

“It really defies the law of supply and demand,” Amy Glaser, senior vice president at Adecco Staffing, said in early May of the muted wage inflation. Employers “are seeing an increase in turnover and they’re really weighing whether they need to increase wages.”

Conference Board also reported its present situation index for the month of May increased to 161.7 from 157.5, its highest level since 167.5 in March 2001.

“Overall, confidence levels remain at historically strong levels and should continue to support solid consumer spending in the near-term,” director of economic indicators Lynn Franco said in the release.

The Conference Board says the present situation index suggests “that the level of economic growth in Q2 is likely to have improved from Q1.”

— CNBC’s Jeff Cox contributed to this report.



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