Index: Consumers less confident

A monthly measure of consumer confidence has retreated even as concerns over business and labor conditions mount.

The Conference Board reported that its Consumer Confidence Index fell more than six points to 95.2 in April, more than erasing a 2.5-point gain in March.

“This month’s retreat was prompted by a softening in current conditions likely sparked by the recent lackluster performance of the labor market and apprehension about the short-term outlook,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators for the Conference Board. “Coupled with waning expectations, there is little to suggest that economic momentum will pick up in the months ahead.”

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

For April, less upbeat assessments of current business and labor conditions pulled down the present situation component of the index nearly three points to 106.8 and a third straight month of declines.

The proportion of consumers responding to the survey upon which the April index was based who described business conditions as “good,” edged down two-tenths of a point to 26.5 percent. The share of those who characterized business conditions as “bad” fell more than a point to 18.2 percent.

The proportion of consumers who described jobs as “plentiful,” declined nearly two points to 19.1 percent. The share of those who said jobs are “hard to get” rose almost a point to 26.4 percent.

A less optimistic outlook pulled down the expectations component of the index 8.5 points to 87.5.

The share of consumers who expect business conditions to improve over the next six months decreased eight-tenths of a point to 16 percent. The proportion of those anticipating worsening conditions rose 1.3 points to 9.4 percent.

The share of consumers who expect more jobs to become available in coming months dropped 1.5 points to 13.8 percent. The proportion of those who believe fewer jobs will become available increased 2.7 points to 16.3 percent.

While 18.3 percent of consumers said they expect higher incomes, down a half point, 11.2 percent anticipate lower incomes, up 1.5 points.