Consumer Confidence Index Declines Again

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which has been declining since August, fell further in October. The Index now stands at 95.6 (1985=100), down from 99.5 in September. The Present Situation Index decreased to 118.8 from 121.2 in September. The Expectations Index declined to 80.1 from 85.

“Consumer Confidence posted its third monthly decline and continues to hover at two-year lows (Oct. 2005, 85.2),” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. “Further weakening in business conditions has, yet again, tempered consumers’ assessment of current-day conditions and may very well be a prelude to lackluster job growth in the months ahead. In addition, consumers are growing more pessimistic about the short-term future and their rather bleak outlook suggests a less than stellar ending to this year.”

Consumers’ assessment of present conditions weakened further in October. Those claiming conditions are “good” decreased to 23.4 percent from 25.7 percent. However, those saying conditions are “bad” decreased to 16.3 percent from 17.8 percent. Overall, consumers were less upbeat in their appraisal of the job market. Those saying jobs are “hard to get” increased to 22.6 percent from 22.4 percent. Those claiming jobs are “plentiful” decreased to 24.1 percent from 25.6 percent in September.

Consumers’ short-term expectations eroded further in October. Consumers expecting business conditions to worsen in the next six months rose to 13.8 percent from 11.9 percent. Those anticipating business conditions to improve declined to 13.7 percent from 15.7 percent.

The outlook for the labor market was also less optimistic. The percent of consumers expecting more jobs in the months ahead was virtually unchanged at 13.5 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs increased to 20.1 percent from 18.7 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to increase in the months ahead declined moderately to 19.6 percent from 20 percent.

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 TNS, a custom research company. The cutoff date for October’s preliminary results was Oct. 23.