Consumer confidence slips in February

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, which had been on the rise since December, lost ground in February. The Index now stands at 94.1 (1985=100), down from 97.8 in January. The Present Situation Index declined from 98.1 to 94.8. The Expectations Index fell from 97.6 to 93.6.

“While confidence has weakened from January’s level, both components of the Index still point to healthy consumer spending in the months ahead,” says Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center. “The consumer will continue to provide solid spending support as the economy moves into recovery.”

Consumers’ assessment of ongoing business conditions was less favorable in February. Those rating conditions as “good” declined from 18.2% to 17.2%. Consumers rating current business conditions as “bad” rose marginally from 22.4% to 22.9%. Those reporting jobs were plentiful fell from 18.4% to 17.8%. Those claiming jobs were “hard to get” edged up from 22.5% to 22.8%.

Consumers’ outlook for the next six months was less optimistic. Those expecting an improvement in business conditions decreased from 24.9% to 22.0%. Those anticipating conditions to worsen rose from 9.8% to 11.3%.

The employment outlook was also less positive. Currently, 18.4% of consumers expect more jobs to become available in the next six months, down from 18.9% in January. Those expecting fewer jobs to become available increased from 18% to 19.3%. As for income expectations, fewer consumers anticipate their paychecks to rise over the next six months-20.1% in January, compared to 19.9% in February.

The Consumer Confidence Survey is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households. The monthly survey is conducted for The Conference Board by NFO WorldGroup, a member of The Interpublic Group of Companies.