Survey: Consumers shaken, not stirred

Lynn Franco

A monthly measure of consumer confidence has dropped to its lowest level in nearly two years on less upbeat expectations for business and labor conditions.

The Conference Board reported its Consumer Confidence Index retreated 9.8 points to 121.5 in June. That’s the lowest reading since the index stood at 120.6 in September 2017.

Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said escalating trade and tariff tensions have shaken consumer confidence. “Although the index remains at a high level, continued uncertainty could result in further volatility in the index and, at some point, could even begin to diminish consumers’ confidence in the expansion.”

The business research and membership association bases the index on the results of monthly household surveys. Economists monitor the index because consumer spending accounts for about two-thirds of economic activity.

For June, assessments of current business and labor conditions pushed the present situation component of the index down 8.1 points to 162.6.

The proportion of consumers responding to the latest survey who characterized business conditions as “good” fell 1.7 points to 36.7 percent. The share of those who described business conditions as “bad” also decreased, though, eight-tenths of a point to 10.9 percent.

The proportion of consumers who said jobs are “plentiful” decreased 1.3 points to 44 percent. The share of those who said jobs are “hard to get” rose 4.6 points to 16.4 percent.

The expectations component of the index fell 10.9 points to 94.1.

The share of consumers who expect the economy to improve over the next six months fell 3.3 points to 18.1 percent. The proportion of those anticipating worsening conditions rose 4.3 points to 13.1 percent.

The share of consumers who expect more jobs to become available in coming months fell 1.1 points to 17.3 percent. The proportion of those anticipating fewer jobs rose 1.8 points to 14.8 percent.