Consumer Confidence Index retreats

Lynn Franco

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

The Conference Board reported its Consumer Confidence Index fell 5.7 points to 92.6 in July. A component of the index tracking assessments of current conditions increased. But a component tracking the short-term outlook decreased.

Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, attributed the decline in part to the resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic in California, Florida, Texas and other states.

“Looking ahead, consumers have grown less optimistic about the short-term outlook for the economy and labor market and remain subdued about their financial prospects,” Franco said. “Such uncertainty about the short-term future does not bode well for the recovery, nor for consumer spending.”

The Conference Board, a business membership and research 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.

More optimistic assessments of current business and labor conditions pushed up the present situation component of the index 7.5 points to 94.2.

The proportion of consumers responding to the surveys upon which the July index was based who called business conditions “good” held steady at 17.3 percent. But the share of those who said conditions were “bad” decreased 3.4 points to 39.1 percent.

The proportion of consumers who said jobs were “plentiful” rose eight-tenths of a point to 21.3 percent. The share of those who said jobs were “hard to get” fell 3.3 points to 20 percent.

A less upbeat outlook pulled down the expectations components of the index 14.6 points to 91.5.

The share of consumers who said the expect business conditions to improve over the next six months fell 10.8 points to 31.6 percent. The proportion of those who said they expect worsening conditions rose 4.1 points to 19.3 percent.

The share of consumers who said they expect more jobs to become available in coming months fell 7.8 points to 30.6 percent. The proportion of those who said they anticipate fewer jobs rose 5.9 points to 20.3 percent.

The share of consumers who said they expect their incomes to increase remained unchanged at 15.1 percent. Those who said they anticipated decreasing incomes rose nine-tenths of a point to 15 percent.