In recent months, consumer confidence has stagnated, leading some economists to wonder whether consumers are ready to lead the economy out of recession. The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index has even fallen slightly, from 79.4 in April to 78 in June.

But one group, at least, is feeling much more optimistic: workers under 30 with above-average incomes. Their confidence has risen by almost 50% over the past couple of months, reports Stanley C. Plog, whose California-based marketing firm surveys 7,000 people each month. That's good news, since this group of successful young people, says Plog, is a bellwether for the rest of the economy.

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