Consumer Confidence Index declines

Lynn Franco

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

The Conference Board reported its Consumer Confidence Index fell four-tenths of a point to 100.9 in October. A component of the index tracking current conditions increased. But a component tracking the short-term outlook decreased.

Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said the short-term outlook for jobs has softened. “There is little to suggest that consumers foresee the economy gaining momentum in the final months of 2020, especially with COVID-19 cases on the rise and unemployment still high.”

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

For October, more optimistic assessments of current conditions pushed up the present situation component of the index 5.7 points to 104.6.

The proportion of those who responded to the survey upon which the October index was based who described business conditions as “good” slipped a tenth of a point to 17.5 percent. But the share of those who said business conditions were “bad” fell 3.1 points to 33.9 percent.

The proportion of those who called jobs “plentiful” increased 2.9 points to 26.5 percent. The share of those who said jobs were “hard to get” decreased four-tenths of a point to 19.9 percent.

Less upbeat responses pulled down the expectations component of the index 4.5 points to 98.4.

The share of those who expected business conditions to improve over the next six months fell four-tenths of a point to 36.3 percent. The proportion of those who anticipated worsening conditions rose 1.2 points to 17 percent.

The share of those who expected more jobs to become available in the months ahead rose three-tenths of a point to 33.2 percent. But the proportion of those who anticipated fewer jobs increased more —  4.1 points to 20.2 percent.