The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, which had declined in March, lost more ground in April. The Index now stands at 97.7 (1985=100), down from 103 in March. The Present Situation Index declined to 113.6 from 117.0. The Expectations Index declined to 87.2 from 93.7.
“Less robust current conditions and a more cautious outlook have consumers feeling less confident in April than in March,” says Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center. “Despite the decline, the Present Situation Index remains at levels indicative of a healthy economy. However, the Expectations Index is now at its lowest level since July 2003 when it registered 86.3. Looking ahead, consumers do not anticipate an improvement in economic growth nor in their incomes. And, they expect an even tighter job market over the summer months.”
Consumers rated current conditions as less favorable in April than in March. Although the percentage claiming business conditions are “good” edged up to 27% from 26.3%, those claiming conditions are “bad” increased to 17.7% from 15.8% in March. The employment picture was also somewhat mixed. Consumers saying jobs are “hard to get” declined to 23.3% from 23.8%, but those claiming jobs are “plentiful” declined to 20.4% from 21.8%.
Consumers’ outlook for the next six months declined in April for the fourth consecutive time. Those anticipating business conditions to improve fell to 17.8% from 19.3%, while consumers expecting business conditions to worsen increased to 9.7% from 8.2%. The outlook for the labor market also softened in April. Those expecting more jobs to become available in the coming months slipped to 14.2% from 15.1%, while those expecting fewer jobs rose to 18% from 15.8%. The proportion of consumers anticipating their incomes to improve in the months ahead edged down to 16.3% from 17.2% 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 April’s preliminary results was April 19.