Consumer Confidence Index declines in September

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index declined again in September, the second consecutive monthly dip. The Index now stands at 96.8 (1985=100), down from 98.7 last month. The Present Situation Index fell to 95.5 from 100.7 in August. The Expectations Index was virtually unchanged at 97.6, compared with 97.3 last month.

“The recent declines in the Index were caused primarily by a deterioration in consumers’ assessment of employment conditions,” says Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center. “Soft labor market conditions have clearly taken a toll on consumer confidence. Still, expectations for the next six months are virtually unchanged from August.”

Consumers’ assessment of overall present-day conditions was mixed. Those saying business conditions are “good” edged up to 23.6% from 23%. Those claiming conditions are “bad” remained flat at 20.3%, compared to 20.2% last month. The job situation was less favorable than in August. Consumers saying jobs are “plentiful” declined to 16.8% from 18.4%. Those claiming jobs are “hard to get” rose to 28.3% from 26% in August.

Consumers’ outlook for the next six months is relatively unchanged. Those anticipating conditions to worsen in the next six months increased to 9.4% from 8.8%. But those expecting business conditions to improve increased to 21.4% from 20.2% last month.

The employment outlook for the next six months was also mixed. Consumers expecting fewer jobs increased to 16.1% from 15.1%, while those anticipating more jobs to become available rose to 17.7% from 16.3%. The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to improve in the months ahead edged up to 20% from 19.7% last month.

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 NFO. The cutoff date for September’s preliminary results was Sept. 20th.