Confidence index retreats from 15-yaar high

A measure of consumer confidence has retreated from a 15-year high on less upbeat expectations for improving business and labor conditions as well as prospects for increased income.

The Conference Board reported that its Consumer Confidence Index slipped to 111.8 in January. That’s down 1.5 points from a reading in Decenber that was the highest since the index stood at 114 in August 2001.

Overall, though, consumers remain mostly upbeat, said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators for the Conference Board. “Consumers remain confident that the economy will continue to expand in the coming months.”

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

A component of the index tracking consumer assessments of current business and labor conditions rose 6.2 points to 129.7.

The portion of consumers responding to the survey upon which the January index was based who described business conditions as “good” rose seven-tenths of a point to 29.3 percent. The share of those who characterized conditions as “bad” fell 1.7 points to 16.1 percent.

The portion of consumers who said jobs are “plentiful” rose 1.4 points to 27.4 percent. The share of those who said jobs are “hard to get” fell 1.2 points to 21.5 percent.

A conponent of the index tracking consumer expectations retreated 6.6 points to 99.8.

The share of consumers who said they expect business conditions to improve over the next six months fell 1.6 points to 23.1 percent. The portion of those anticipating worsening conditions rose 1.8 points to 10.7 percent.

The share of those who said they expect more jobs to become available in coming months decreased 1.9 points to 19.8 percent. The portion of those anticipating fewer jobs remained unchanged at 14 percent.

While 18 percent of consumers responding to the survey said they expect their incomes to increase, down 3.5 points, 9.6 percent said they anticipate decreasing incomes, up a point.