Consumer Confidence Index drops as concerns mount

Lynn Franco

A measure of consumer confidence continues to retreat as concerns mount over rising gasoline and food prices.

The Conference Board reported its Consumer Confidence Index fell 4.5 points between May and June to 98.7.

While a component of the index assessing current business and labor conditions edged down, a component tracking expectations dropped more than seven points to its lowest level in more than nine years.

“Consumers’ grimmer outlook was driven by increasing concerns about inflation, in particular rising gas and food prices,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board.  “Expectations have now fallen well below a reading of 80, suggesting weaker growth in the second half of 2022 as well as growing risk of recession by yearend.”

Purchasing intentions for homes, cars and major appliances remain steady, but have cooled since the beginning of the year, Franco said. “Looking ahead over the next six months, consumer spending and economic growth are likely to continue facing strong headwinds from further inflation and rate hikes.”

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.

For June, less upbeat assessments of current conditions pulled the present situation component of index down three-tenths of a point to 147.1.

The proportion of consumers responding to the survey upon which the June index was based who described business conditions as “good” slipped two-tenths of a point to 19.6 percent. The share of those who said conditions were “bad” rose 1.3 points to 23 percent.

The proportion of consumers who said jobs were “plentiful” fell six-tenths of a point to 51.3 percent. The share of those who said jobs are “hard to get” fell more — eight-tenths of a point to 11.6 percent.

Less optimistic outlooks pulled the expectations component of the index down 7.3 points to 66.4. That’s the lowest reading since the index stood at 63.7 in March 2013.

The share of consumers who said they expect business conditions to improve over the next six months fell 1.7 points to 14.7 percent. The proportion of those who said they anticipated worsening conditions rose 3.1 points to 29.5 percent.

The share of consumers who said they expect more jobs to become available fell 1.2 points to 16.3 percent. The proportion of those anticipating fewer jobs rose 2.5 points to 22 percent.

While 15.9 percent of consumers said they expect their incomes will increase, down two points, 15.2 percent said they expect their incomes to decease. That’s up seven-tenths of a point.