Confidence indesx: Consumers shaken, not stirred

A monthly measure of consumer confidence has retreated on less upbeat expectations for business and labor conditions.

The Conference Board reported that its Consumer Confidence Index fell nearly nine points to 90.9 in July.

While a component of the index tracking consumer assessments of current conditions slipped almost three points, a component tracking their short-term outlook tumbled nearly 13 points.

“Consumers continue to assess current conditions favorably, but their short-term expectations deteriorated this month,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators for the Conference Board. “A less optimistic outlook for the labor market, and perhaps the uncertainty and volatility in financial markets prompted by the situation in Greece and China appears to have shaken consumers’ confidence. Overall, the index remains at levels associated with an expanding economy and a relatively confident consumer.”

The Conference Board, a business research and membership association, bases the index on the results of monthly surveys of U.S. households. Economists closely monitor the index because consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of economic activity in the country.

The present situation component of the index fell 2.9 points to 107.4.

The share of consumers responding to the survey upon which the July index was based who described business conditions as “good” fell 1.9 points to 24.2 percent. The proportion of those who called business conditions “bad” held steady at 17.9 percent.

The share of consumers who said jobs are “plentiful” fell six-tenths of a point to 20.7 percent. The proportion of those who said jobs are “hard to get” rose six-tenths of a point to 26.7 percent.

The expectations component of the index declined 12.9 points to 79.9.

The proportion of consumers who expect business conditions to improve over the next six months fell 3.2 points to 14.7 percent. The share of those anticipating worse conditions rose a half point to 10.7 percent.

The proportion of consumers who expect more jobs to become available in coming months fell four points to 13.1 percent. The share of those who believe fewer jobs will be available rose 4.8 points to 20 percent.

While 17 percent of consumers expect their incomes to increase, down six-tenths of a point, 11.2 percent anticipate a decline, up six-tenths.