Consumer Confidence Index retreats

A monthly measure of consumer confidence has retreated to recession-level readings on growing concerns about current and future business and labor conditions.

The Conference Board reported that its Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) fell nearly seven points to 39.8 for October.
“Consumer confidence is now back to levels last seen during the 2008-2009 recession,” said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center. “Consumer expectations, which had improved in September, gave back all of the gain and then some as concerns about business conditions, the labor market and income prospects increased. Consumers’ assessment of present-day conditions did not far any better.”

The Conference Board, a business research and membership group, bases the CCI on the results of monthly surveys.

Economists closely monitor the index because consumer spending accounts for about two-thirds of all economic activity in the country.

Consumer assessments of current business and labor conditions drove down the Present Situation component of the CCI down seven points to 26.3. The Present Situation Index has dropped for six consecutive months.

The proportion of consumers who described business conditions as “good” fell more than a point to 11 percent. The share of those who said conditions are “bad” rose more than three points to 43.7 percent.

The proportion of consumers who said jobs are “plentiful” dropped more than two points to just 3.4 percent. The share of those who said jobs are “hard to get” also dropped more than two points, but stands at 47.1 percent.

Consumers were similarly more pessimistic in their outlook for the next six months, pulling down the Expectations component of the CCI more than six points to 48.7.

The share of consumers who expect business conditions to improve fell nearly three points to 9.1 percent. The proportion of those who anticipate worse conditions slipped four-tenths to 21.9 percent.

The share of consumers who believe more jobs will become available in the months ahead slipped six-tenths to 11.3 percent, while the proportion of those expecting fewer jobs fell more than a point to 27.4 percent.

The share of consumers who expect their incomes to increase fell more than three points to 10.3 percent.