Consumer confidence soared passed analysts expectations in February to reach the highest level in 12 months, according to a report released Tuesday by the Conference Board. The Consumer Confidence Index reached 70.8 points this month, up from a revised 61.5 in January. The reading is the highest level since February of last year, when it reached 72 points. Economists were quick to point to recent improvements in the job market as driving the trend, even as gas prices have soared alongside a stagnant housing market. Earlier this month, the Labor Department reported the addition of 243,000 jobs in January and a dip in the unemployment rate to the lowest level in three years. "We're seeing further evidence the labor market is better," Joseph LaVorgna, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank Securities, told Bloomberg. With more improvement, "a self-sustaining feedback loop will become present whereby rising income engenders a further lift in confidence, which in turn lifts spending." Debt collection firms hope this will lead to a more agreeable marketplace. Recent pressures from regulatory agencies have made debt recovery a particularly difficult process.