CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABERWASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ U.S. consumers are optimistic the unemployment rate will drop over the next 12 months, boosting their confidence to the highest level in five years. The University of Michigan says its consumer sentiment index ticked up to 82.7 this month from 82.6 in October. The index has increased 19 percentage points in the past year. Optimism about the job market is high. Of those surveyed, 30 percent expect the unemployment rate will fall over the next 12 months. That matches October's percentage and is the highest since 1984. Still, consumers are concerned about the "fiscal cliff," the combination of tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to take effect at the beginning of next year. If the White House and Congress don't reach a deal to avoid the cliff, confidence could fall.