The New York-based Conference Board said its Consumer Confidence Index rose ten points to 64.5 in December, following another big increase in November. However, the reading still came well below the 90 level that represents a solid economy.

The nation’s reading was in the mid 40s in the summertime.

“What we have seen out of the labor market in the second half of the year is giving consumers enough confidence to bring consumer confidence back to the kind of optimism that we saw back in the spring,” said economist Ken Goldstein of the Conference Board.

For five months in a row, the economy had produced at least 100,000 new jobs.

He said the state and nation are back to the same position as a year ago.

“We’re not in better shape, not in worse shape, going into 2012 than we were in 2011,” he said.

December’s numbers were in line with retail reports of a pleasant holiday shopping season. However, Goldstein said consumers were spending out of their savings and by borrowing.

For that reason, Goldstein predicted a “long winter’s nap” out of the American consumer, unless there are big changes in the labor and housing markets.

Goldstein continued, “Unless we get better news out of the job market and better news out of the housing market in the Garden State, we’re not going to see better news out of the consumer and spending in January, February or March.”