Consumer Confidence Index seesaws back up

A monthly measure of consumer confidence continues to seesaw, this time swinging up on more upbeat expectations for business and labor conditions.

The Conference Board reported that its Consumer Confidence Index (CCI), climbed more than six points to 68.1 in April. The CCI has had its ups and downs over the past four months with eight-point drops in March and January as bookends to an 11-point gain in February.

Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators for the Conference Board, said consumer sentiment has been influenced by such events as the fiscal cliff, return of the payroll tax and sequester. “While expectations appear to have bounced back, it is too soon to tell if confidence is actually on the mend.”

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

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

For April, components of the CCI tracking consumer assessments of present conditions and their outlook for the near future both advanced.

The present situation component of the index rose more than a point to 60.4.

The proportion of consumers responding to the survey upon which the April CCI was based who deemed current business conditions as “good” rose nearly a point to 17.2 percent. The share of those who said business conditions are “bad” fell a point to 28.1 percent.

The proportion of consumers who described jobs as “plentiful” edged up three-tenths of a point to 9.8 percent. However, the share of those who characterized jobs as “hard to get” rose nearly two points to 37.1 percent.

The expectations component of the CCI jumped nearly 10 points to 73.3.

While the share of consumers who expect business conditions to improve over the next six months rose nearly two points to 16.9 percent, the proportion of those who anticipate worse conditions fell nearly three points to 15.1 percent.

The proportion of consumers who believe more jobs will become available rose more than a point to 14.2 percent, while the share of those forecasting fewer jobs fell nearly four points to 22.4 percent.

Meanwhile, 16.8 percent of consumers responding to the survey expect their incomes to increase, a gain of more than two points. Another 16 percent anticipate less income, down almost two points.