Index: Consumer expectations not so great

A monthly measure of consumer confidence has dropped on less upbeat expectations for improving business and labor conditions.

The Conference Board reported that its Consumer Confidence Index retreated 1.9 points to 94.2 in April.

A component of the index tracking consumer assessments of current conditions increased. But another component of the index tracking short-term expectations decreased.

“Consumer confidence continued on its sideways path, posting a slight decline in April following a modest gain in March,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board. “Consumers’ assessment of current conditions improved, suggesting no slowing in economic growth. However, their expectations regarding the short term have moderated, suggesting they do not foresee any pickup in momentum.”

The business research and membership association bases the Consumer Confidence Index on the results of monthly surveys of United States households. Economists closely monitor the index because consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of economic activity in the country.

For April, more optimistic assessments of current business and labor conditions pushed up the present situation component of the index 1.5 points to 116.4.

The proportion of consumers responding to the survey upon which the April index was based who described business conditions as “good” fell 1.7 points to 23.2 percent. But the share of those who characterized business conditions as “bad” also declined — 1.1 points to 18.1 percent.

The proportion of consumers who said jobs are “plentiful” fell 1.3 points to 24.1 percent. But the share of those who called jobs “hard to get” fell more — 2.5 points to 22.7 percent.

Consumers were less upbeat in their short-term outlook,  pushing down the expectations component of the index 4.3 points to 79.3.

The share of consumers who said they expect business conditions to improve over the next six months dropped 1.3 points to 13.4 percent. The proportion of those who said they anticipate worsening conditions climbed 1.5 points to 11 percent.

The share of consumers who believe more jobs will become available in coming months fell eight-tenths of a point to 12.2 percent. The proportion of those who expect fewer jobs to become available rose nine-tenths of a point to 17.2 percent.

While 15.9 percent of consumers expect their incomes to increase, down a point, 11.2 percent anticipate lower incomes, down 1.1 points.