Confidence index signals more growth ahead

Lynn Franco
Lynn Franco

A monthly measure of consumer confidence remains at it highest level in 18 years with expectations for continued growth into the new year.

“Consumers do not foresee the economy losing steam anytime soon. Rather, they expect the strong pace of growth to carry over into early 2019,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board.

The business research and membership association reported its Consumer Confidence Index rose 2.6 points to 137.9 for October, close to the reading of 142.5 in September 2000. Measures of current conditions, as well as expectations, increased.

The Conference Board 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 country.

For October, more optimistic assessments of current business and labor conditions pushed the present situation component of the index up 3.4 points to 172.8.

The proportion of consumers responding to the survey upon which the October index was based who described business conditions as “good” rose six-tenths of a point to 40.5 percent. The share of those who characterized conditions as “bad” fell four-tenths of a point to 9.2 percent.

The proportion of consumers who said jobs were “plentiful” increased 1.8 points to 45.9 percent. The share of those who said jobs were “hard to get” decreased nine-tenths of a point to 13.2 percent.

The expectations component of the index rose 2.1 points to 114.6.

The share of consumers who said they expect business conditions to improve over the next six months rose a half point to 26.3 percent. The proportion of those anticipating worsening conditions fell nine-tenths of a point to 7.4 percent.

The share of consumers who said they expect more jobs to become available in coming months slipped two-tenths of a point to 21.9 percent. But the proportion of those expecting fewer jobs decreased more — nine-tenths of a point to 10.5 percent.

Meanwhile, 24.7 percent of consumers said they expect their incomes to increase, up 2.2 points. Another 8.5 percent said they expect to earn less, up nine-tenths of a point.