Confidence index: Consumers shaken, not stirred

Lynn Franco

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

The Conference Board reported its Consumer Confidence Index dropped 6.9 points to 84.8 in August, declining for a second straight month. Components of the index tracking assessments of current conditions as well as the short-term outlook both decreased.

“Consumer spending has rebounded in recent months, but increasing concerns amongst consumers about the economic outlook and their financial well-being will likely cause spending to cool in the months ahead,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board.

The business membership and research group bases the index on the results of monthly household surveys. Economists monitor the index because consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of economic activity in the United States.

Less optimistic assessments of current conditions pulled down the present situation component of the index 11.7 points to 84.2.

The proportion of consumers responding to the survey upon which the August index was based who called business conditions “good” fell 1.1 points to 16.4 percent. The share of those who called conditions “bad” rose 4.7 points to 43.6 percent.

The proportion of those who said jobs were “plentiful” rose fell eight-tenths of a point to 21.5 percent. The share of those who called jobs “hard to get” rose 5.1 points to 25.2 percent.

Less upbeat outlooks pulled down the expectations component of the index 3.7 points to 85.2.

The share of consumers who said they expect business conditions to improve over the next six months fell 1.7 points to 29.9 percent. The proportion of those who said they expect worsening conditions rose three-tenths of a point to 20.5 percent.

The share of consumers who said they expect more jobs to become available in coming months fell a half point to 29.1 percent. The proportion of those anticipating fewer jobs rose six-tenths of a point to 21.9 percent.