Consumer Confidence Index falls in August

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, which had been on the rise since April, declined in August. The Index now stands at 98.2 (1985=100), down from 105.7 in July. The Expectations Index dropped to 96.6 from 105.3. The Present Situation Index fell to 100.7 from 106.4.

“The slowdown in job growth has curbed consumers’ confidence,” says Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center. “The level of consumer optimism has fallen off and caution has returned. Until the job market and pace of hiring picks up, this cautious attitude will prevail.”

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions was less upbeat than last month, according to the survey. Those saying business conditions are “good” declined to 23.2% from 25.2%. Those claiming conditions are “bad” rose to 20.1% from 19.1%. Consumers saying jobs are “plentiful” decreased to 18.1% from 19.7%. Those claiming jobs are “hard to get” was virtually unchanged at 25.8%, compared to 25.7% in July.

Consumers have reduced expectations for the next six months. Those anticipating conditions to worsen increased to 8.8% from 7.1%. Those expecting business conditions to improve declined to 20.1% from 23% last month.

The employment outlook for the next six months was also less favorable. Consumers expecting fewer jobs increased to 15.4% from 13.5%. Those anticipating more jobs to become available fell to 16.2% from 19.5%. Consumers expecting their incomes to improve in the months ahead rose to 19.3% from 18.0% 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 August’s preliminary results was Aug. 24.