Consumers less upbeat about continued growth

A monthly measure of consumer confidence has retreated in part on less upbeat expectations the United State economy will continue to strengthen.

The Conference Board reported that its Consumer Confidence Index dropped five points to 97.6 in October. Components of the measure tracking current assessments of business and labor conditions as well as the short-term outlook both declined.

“Consumers were less positive in their assessment of present-day conditions, in particular the job market, and were moderately less optimistic about the short-term outlook,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board. “Despite the decline, consumers still rate current conditions favorably, but they do not anticipate the economy strengthening much in the near-term.”

The Conference Board, a business research and membership association, bases the index on the results of monthly surveys of U.S. households. Economists monitor the index because consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of economic activity in the country.

The present situation component of the index fell more than eight points in October to 112.1.

The proportion of consumers responding to the survey upon which the October index was based who described business conditions as “good” decreased 1.6 points to 26.5 percent. The share of those who characterized business conditions as “bad” increased 1.9 points to 18.3 percent.

The proportion of consumers who called jobs “plentiful” fell 2.6 points to 22.2 percent. The share of those who said jobs are “hard to get” rose nine-tenths of a point to 25.8 percent.

The expectations component of the index fell 2.8 points in October to 88.

The share of consumers who expect business conditions to improve over the next six months held steady at 18.1 percent. But the proportion of those who anticipate worsening conditions edged up two-tenths of a point to 10.6 percent.

The share of consumers who expect more jobs to become available in coming months slipped four-tenths of a point to 14.5 percent. The proportion of those who anticipate fewer jobs rose a point to 16.9 percent.

Even as the share of consumers who expect their incomes to increase fell seven-tenths of a point to 18 percent, the proportion of those who anticipate decreasing income rose eight-tenths of a point to 10.7 percent.