Consumer Confidence Index slips fourth straight month

Lynn Franco

A monthly measure of consumer confidence has declined for a fourth straight month on less upbeat assessments of business and labor conditions, but still offers encouragement in the midst of the holiday shopping season.

“Overall, confidence levels are still high and should support solid spending during this holiday season,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators with the Conference Board.

The Conference Board reported its Consumer Confidence Index fell six-tenths of a point to 125.5 in November.

The business research and membership 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 in the county.

Franco said the latest index results suggest economic growth will remain weak in the fourth quarter of 2019 and slow at about 2 percent in the first quarter of 2020.

For November, assessments of current business and labor conditions pulled down the present situation component of the index 6.6 points to 166.9.

The proportion of consumers responding to the survey upon which the November index was based who described business conditions as “good” rose a half point to 40.2 percent. But the share of those who characterized business conditions as “bad” rose more — 2.8 points to 13.8 percent.

The proportion of consumers who said jobs are “plentiful”  fell 2.9 points to 44.8 percent. The share of those who said jobs are “hard to get” increased 1.1 points to 12.7 percent.

The short-term outlook pulled the expectations component of the index up 3.4 points to 97.9.

The share of consumers who said they expect business conditions to improve over the next six months fell 1.5 points to 17.2 percent. The proportion of those anticipating worsening conditions rose six-tenths of a point to 12.1 percent.

The share of consumers who said they expect more jobs to become available in coming months fell 1.2 points to 15.7 percent. But the proportion of those anticipating fewer jobs decreased more — 4.8 points to 13.2 percent.

While 21.8 percent of consumers said they expect their incomes to increase, up four-tenths of a point, the proportion anticipating a decrease fell seven-tenths of a point to 6.2 percent.