Consumer Confidence Index retreats

Lynn Franco
Lynn Franco

A measure of consumer confidence has retreated for a second straight month on less upbeat expectations for business and labor conditions.

The Conference Board reported its Consumer Confidence Index fell to 128.1 in December. The index has dropped 8.3 points from November and 9.8 points from October when the reading stood at its highest level in nearly 18 years.

“Expectations regarding job prospects and business conditions weakened, but still suggest that the economy will continue expanding at a solid pace in the short-term,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators with the Conference Board. “While consumers are ending 2018 on a strong note, back-to-back declines in expectations are reflective of an increasing concern that the pace of economic growth will begin moderating in the first half of 2019.”

The business research and membership organization 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.

The present situation component of the index edged down 1.1 points to 171.6 in December on less optimistic assessments of current business and labor conditions.

The proportion of consumers responding to the survey upon which the index was based who described business conditions as “good” fell 4.8 points to 37.2 percent. The share of those who characterized conditions as “bad” increased six-tenths of a point to 11.3 percent.

The proportion of consumers who said jobs were “plentiful” slipped six-tenths of a point to 46.2 percent. But the share of those who called jobs “hard to get” fell a point to 11.6 percent.

The expectations component of the index dropped 13.2 points to 99.1.

The share of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months fell three points to 18.3 percent. The proportion of those anticipating worsening conditions rose 1.4 points to 9.7 percent.

The share of consumer expecting more jobs to become available in coming months fell 6.1 points to 16.6 percent. The proportion of those anticipating fewer jobs rose 3.2 points to 14.4 percent.