Consumer Confidence Index retreats

Lynn Franco

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

The Conference Board reported its Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) fell 5.3 points to 96.1 in November. Components of the index tracking current conditions as well the short-term outlook retreated.

Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said the latest readings suggest moderating business conditions and slowing growth in the fourth quarter — and perhaps beyond into the coming year.

“Heading into 2021, consumers do not foresee the economy nor the labor market gaining strength,” Franco said. “In addition, the resurgence of COVID-19 is further increasing uncertainty and exacerbating concerns about the outlook.”

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

For November, less optimistic assessments of current conditions pulled down the present situation component of the CCI three-tenths of a point to 105.9.

The proportion of consumers responding to the survey upon which the November index was based who described business conditions as “good” fell a point to 17.6 percent. The share of those who said conditions were “bad” also fell, though, nine-tenths of a point to 33.5 percent.

The proportion of consumers who called jobs “plentiful” remained unchanged at 26.7 percent. The share of those who said jobs are “hard to get” held steady at 19.5 percent.

Less upbeat responses also pulled down the expectations component of the CCI 8.7 points to 89.5.

The share of consumers who said they expect business conditions to improve over the next six months fell 8.6 points to 27.4 percent. The proportion of those who said they anticipate worsening conditions rose 3.9 points to 19.8 percent.

The share of those who said they expect more jobs to become available in coming months decreased 6.1 points to 25.9 percent. The proportion of those who forecast fewer jobs increased seven-tenths of a point to 20.5 percent.

Asked about their expectations for income, 17.6 percent of consumers responding to the survey said they expect their incomes to increase — unchanged from October. But 13.3 percent said they anticipate their incomes to decrease. That’s a gain of nine-tenths of a point.