Consumer confidence falls again

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index fell for the third straight month. The Index for September stands at 93.3 (1985=100), down from 94.5 in August. The Present Situation Index declined to 88.5 from 93.1, while the Expectations Index rose to 96.5 from 95.5.

“Weak labor market conditions continue to erode confidence,” says Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center. “But while consumers are not as positive about current business conditions, they are more optimistic about the outlook than last month. Historically, this trend is prevalent during a recovery.”

Consumers’ assessment of the present situation was mixed, according to the New York-based Conference Board. Those rating business conditions as “good” increased from 16.7% to 18.2%. However, those rating conditions as “bad” also increased, from 21.8% to 23.3%. Consumers reporting jobs were plentiful declined to 15.9%, down from 17.4%. Those claiming jobs are hard to get climbed to 25.5%, up from 23.8% last month.

Overall, consumers were more optimistic about the short-term outlook, according to the report. Fewer respondents expect an improvement in business conditions in the next six months—21.5% in September, down from 22.2% in August. However, fewer consumers expect conditions to worsen—9.6% in September, down slightly from 10% in August.

The employment outlook was more favorable in September. Those anticipating more jobs to become available in the next six months increased from 17.4% to 17.7%. As for income prospects, 20.3% of consumers anticipate an increase, down from 22.1% in August.

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.

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