Consumer confidence rises, but index signals little change

A monthly measure of consumer confidence has increased, but continued concerns about the economy and jobs reflect no big changes in sentiment.

The Conference Board reported that its Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) advanced 1.6 points to 50.2 in October on slightly more upbeat assessments of current conditions and the short-term outlook.

“Consumer confidence, while slightly improved from September levels, is still hovering at historically low levels,” said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center. “Consumers’ assessments of the current state of the economy is relatively unchanged, primarily because labor market conditions have yet to significantly improve. And, despite the uptick in expectations, consumers continue to be quite concerned about the short-term outlook. Both present and future indicators point toward more of the same in the coming months.”

The Conference Board, a business research and membership group, bases the CCI on the results of monthly surveys of 5,000 U.S. households. Economists closely monitor the index because consumer spending accounts for about two-thirds of economic activity in the country.

Assessments of current conditions pushed the Present Situation Index component of the CCI up six-tenths to 23.9.

The proportion of consumers responding to the October survey who described business conditions as “good” edged up three-tenths to 8.5 percent. The share of those who said conditions are “bad” fell 4.1 points to 41.9 percent.

The proportion of those who described jobs as “plentiful” slipped three-tenths to just 3.5 percent. The share of those who said jobs are “hard to get” rose three-tenths to 46.1 percent.

A slightly less bleak outlook pushed up the Expectations Index component of the CCI 2.3 points to 67.8.

The share of those who expect business conditions to improve over the next six months rose a point to 16 percent. The share of those who anticipate conditions will worsen fell 2.5 points to 14.1 percent.

The share of those who expect more jobs to become available in coming months fell four-tenths to 14.1 percent. The proportion of those who anticipate fewer jobs fell six-tenths to 22 percent.