Consumer Confidence Index retreats

A monthly measure of consumer confidence has retreated, but still reflects expectations the United States economy will continue to grow.

The Conference Board reported that its Consumer Confidence Index fell almost five points to 98.6 in October. The decline followed two months of gains that boosted the index to its highest level since 2007. Components of the index tracking current conditions and the short-term outlook both fell in October.

“Overall, sentiment is that the economy will continue to expand in the near term, but at a moderate pace,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board.

The business research and membership association 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, less upbeat assessments of current business and labor conditions pulled down the present situation component of the index more than seven points to 120.6.

The portion of consumers responding to the surveys upon which the October index was based who characterized business conditions as “good” fell 1.5 points to 26.2 percent. The share of those who described business conditions as “bad” rose 1.9 points to 17.7 percent.

The portion of consumers who called jobs “plentiful” fell 3.3 points to 24.3 percent. The share of those who said jobs are “hard to get” dropped 1.2 points to 22.1 percent.

A less hopeful outlook brought down the expectations component of the index 3.3 points to 83.9.

The share of consumers who said they expect business conditions to improve over the next six months decreased a point to 16 percent. The portion of those anticipating worsening conditions increased 1.4 points to 12.2 percent.

The share of consumers who said they expect more jobs to become available in coming months fell 2.6 points 13.1 percent. However, the portion of those anticipating fewer jobs also fell — 1.1 points to 17 percent.

While 17.5 percent of consumers said they expect their incomes to increase, unchanged from September, 9.8 percent said they anticipate lower incomes, down six-tenths of a percent.