Consumer Confidence Index retreats to nine-month low

A monthly measure of consumer confidence has dropped to its lowest level in nine months on less upbeat expectations for business and labor conditions.

The Conference Board reported that its Consumer Confidence Index retreated nearly five points to 60.5 in August. The loss pulls the CCI down to its lowest level since dropping to 55.2 in November.

The CCI is based on the results of monthly surveys of U.S. households.

Economists monitor the index because consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of economic activity in the country.

“A more pessimistic outlook was the primary reason for this month’s decline in confidence,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators for the Conference Board, a business research and membership group. “Consumers were more apprehensive about business and employment prospects, but more optimistic about their financial prospects despite rising inflation expectations.”

The Present Situation Index, a measure of consumer assessments of current conditions, edged down a tenth of a point to 45.8 in August.

The share of consumers responding to the survey upon which the August CCI was based who described business conditions as “good” rose 1.5 points to 15.2 percent, while the proportion of those who said conditions are “bad” held steady at 34.4 percent.

The share of consumers who said jobs are “plentiful” fell eight-tenths of a point to 7 percent, while the proportion of those who said jobs are “hard to get” slipped three-tenths to 40.7 percent.

The Expectations Index, a measure of consumer outlooks for the next six months, fell nearly eight points to 70.5 in August.

The proportion of consumers who said the expect improving business conditions fell 2.5 points to 16.5 percent, while the share of those who said they anticipate worsening conditions rose 2.6 points to 17.7 percent.

The proportion of consumers who anticipate more jobs to become available in the months ahead declined more than two points to 15.4 percent, while the share of those who believe there will be fewer jobs available increased nearly three points to 23.4 percent.

The proportion of consumers who expect their incomes to increase rose 1.5 points to 15.7 percent.

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