Confidence index slips, but growth still expected

A monthly measure of consumer confidence has slipped, but continues to reflect expectations for improving business and labor conditions.

The Conference Board reported its Consumer Confidence Index fell six-tenths of a point to 119.8 in September. Consumers were less upbeat in their assessments of current conditions, but more optimistic about the future.

“Despite the slight downtick in confidence, consumers’ assessment of current conditions remains quite favorable, and their expectations for the short-term suggest the economy will continue expanding at its current pace,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators for the Conference Board.

Confidence in Texas and Florida decreased “considerably,” Franco said, in the aftermath of damages caused by hurricanes.

The business research and membership 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.

For September, the present situation component of the index fell 2.3 points to 146.1.

The proportion of consumers responding to the survey upon which the September index was based who described business conditions as “good” fell six-tenths of a point to 33.9 percent. The share of those who called conditions “bad” rose six-tenths of a point to 13.8 percent.

The proportion of consumers who characterized jobs as “plentiful”  fell 1.8 points to 32.6 percent. The share of those who said jobs are “hard to get” edged down three-tenths of a point to 18.1 percent.

The expectations portion of the index rose a half point to 102.2.

The share of consumers who said they expect business conditions to improve over the next six months rose four-tenths of a point to 20.2 percent. The proportion of those anticipating worsening conditions rose 1.9 points to 9.9 percent.

The share of consumers who expect more jobs to become available rose 2.7 points to 19.5 percent. The proportion of those anticipating fewer job openings rose three-tenths of a point to 13.5 percent.

Meanwhile, 20.5 percent of consumers said they expect their incomes to increase, up six-tenths of a point. The proportion of those who said they expect less income remained unchanged at 8.3 percent.