Consumer confidence falls in September

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, which had rebounded last month, gave back all of the gain in September. The Index now stands at 76.8 (1985=100), nearly a five-point dip from 81.7 registered in August. The Expectations Index fell to 88.4 from 94.9. The Present Situation Index sagged to 59.5 from 62.

“The lack of improvement in labor market conditions continues to dampen consumers’ spirits,” says Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center. “Despite September’s retreat, consumers remain cautiously optimistic about the outlook for the next six months. Consumer spending is likely to continue at or near current levels.”

Consumers’ expectations for the next six months weakened in September. Consumers anticipating that business conditions will improve over the next six months slipped to 21.4% from 22.6% in August. Those expecting business conditions to deteriorate rose to 11.9% from 10.6%.

The employment outlook is also less optimistic. Those anticipating the job market to improve in the next six months decreased to 16.7% from 18%. Those expecting fewer jobs to become available increased to 21% from 18.6%. Consumers anticipating an increase in their incomes fell to 18.6% from 20.7%.

Consumers’ appraisal of current conditions was influenced by the job market. Those reporting jobs are “hard to get” increased to 35.3% from 34.1%. Those claiming jobs are “plentiful” retreated to 10% from 11.3% in August.

Consumers’ assessment of the present business environment remained relatively unchanged. Those rating current business conditions as “good” edged up to 16% from 15.9%, while those holding the opposite view declined to 29.6% from 31%.

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. NFO is one of TNS group of companies. The cutoff date for September’s preliminary results was the 23.