Consumer Confidence Index dips in February

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, after improving in January, dipped in February. The Index now stands at 104 (1985=100), down from 105.1 in January. The Present Situation Index increased to 116.4 from 112.1. The Expectations Index, however, declined to 95.7 from 100.4 last month.

“Although expectations cooled this month, consumers are more optimistic today than they were a year ago,” says Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center. “Just as important, consumer confidence about current economic conditions, including the labor market, continues to gather momentum. Despite recent fluctuations, both present and future indicators point toward continued expansion in the months ahead.”

Consumers’ overall assessment of current conditions continues to improve. Those claiming business conditions are “good” eased to 24.9% from 26.1%, but those claiming conditions are “bad” declined to 15.6% from 18.1%. The employment picture also improved. Those saying jobs are “hard to get” fell to 22.6% from 24.3%, while those claiming jobs are “plentiful” was virtually unchanged at 20.9%.

Consumers’ outlook for the next six months lost ground in February. Those anticipating business conditions to improve declined to 17.8% from 22%, but those expecting business conditions to worsen held steady at 7.8%. The outlook for the labor market was also somewhat less optimistic. Now, 15.2% of consumers, compared to 16.6% last month, expect more jobs to become available in the coming months. And, 16.8% expect fewer jobs, up from 15.1% last month. The proportion of consumers anticipating their incomes to improve in the months ahead edged down to 18.5% from 19% 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 February’s preliminary results was Feb. 15.