Consumer confidence slips on less upbeat expectations

Lynn Franco

A monthly measure of consumer confidence has edged down on less upbeat expectations for labor and financial conditions.

“While the economy hasn’t shown signs of further weakening, there is little to suggest growth and in particular consumer spending will gain momentum in early 2020,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators with the Conference Board.

The business research and membership group reported its Consumer Confidence Index slipped three-tenths of a point to 126.5 in December. The index is based on results of monthly household surveys. Economists closely monitor the index because consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of economic activity in the country.

Assessments of current business and labor conditions pushed the present situation component of the index up 3.4 points to 170.

The proportion of consumers responding to the survey upon which the December index was based who described business conditions as “good” held steady at 38.7 percent. The share of those who characterized conditions as “bad” decreased 2.5 points to 11.1 percent.

The proportion of consumers who said jobs are “plentiful” rose three points to 47 percent. The share of those who said jobs are “hard to get” also increased, but less at seven-tenths of a point to 13.1 percent.

The short-term outlook pulled down the expectations component of the index down 2.9 points to 97.4.

The share of consumers who said they expect business conditions to improve over the next six months rose three-tenths of a point to 18.9 percent. The proportion of those anticipating worsening conditions fell 2.1 points to 9.3 percent.

The share of consumers who expect more jobs to become available fell 1.2 points to 15.3 percent. The proportion of those anticipating fewer jobs increased 1.5 points to 14.9 percent.