Consumer Confidence Index rises on more upbeat outlook

A monthly measure of consumer confidence has increased on more upbeat expectations for business and labor conditions that defy volatility in the financial markets.

The Conference Board reported that its Consumer Confidence Index rose 1.8  points to 98.1 in January.

“Consumers’ assessment of current conditions held steady, while their expectations for the next six months improved moderately. For now, consumers do not foresee the volatility in financial markets as having a negative impact on the economy,” 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 surveys of U.S. households. Economists closely watch the index because consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of economic activity in the country.

For January, assessments of current business and labor conditions held steady, as did the present situation component of the index at 116.4.

The proportion of consumers responding to the survey upon which the January index was based who described business conditions as “good” remained unchanged at 27.2 percent. The share of those who characterized business conditions as “bad” slipped four-tenths of a point to 18.5 percent.

The proportion of consumers who said jobs are “plentiful” fell 1.4 points to
22.8 percent. The share of those who called jobs “hard to get” fell 1.1 points to 23.4 percent.

Consumers’ outlook improved, however, sending the expectations component of the index up 2.9 points to 85.9.

The share of consumers who expect business conditions to improve over the next six months rose 1.7 points to 16.2 percent. The proportion of those anticipating worsening conditions edged down a half point to 10.3 percent.

The share of consumers who expect more jobs to become available in coming months advanced eight-tenths of a point to 13.2 percent. The proportion of those anticipating fewer jobs slipped three-tenths of a point to 16.5 percent.

While 18.1 percent of consumers said they expect their incomes to increase, up 1.8 points, 10.8 percent of consumers anticipate lower incomes, up 1.3 points.