Consumer Confidence Index Held Steady in July

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which declined in June, held steady in July. The Index now stands at 51.9 (1985=100), up slightly from 51 in June. The Present Situation Index was virtually unchanged at 65.3 versus 65.4 last month. The Expectations Index increased moderately to 43 from 41.4 in June.

“Consumers’ assessment of current conditions was little changed, suggesting there has been no significant improvement, nor significant deterioration, in business or labor market conditions,” said Lynn Franco, Conference Board Consumer Research Center director. “Looking ahead, while consumers remain extremely grim about short-term prospects, the modest improvement in expectations, often a harbinger of economic times to come, bears careful watching over the next few months.”

Consumers’ appraisal of present-day conditions remained quite bleak in July. Those claiming business conditions are “bad” increased slightly to 32.8 percent from 31.9 percent, while those claiming business conditions are “good” rose to 13.1 percent from 11.5 percent last month. Consumers’ appraisal of the labor market remained negative. Those saying jobs are “hard to get” edged up to 30.3 percent from 29.7 percent in June, while those claiming jobs are “plentiful” declined to 13.5 percent from 14.1 percent.

Consumers’ outlook, while slightly improved from last month, continues to be very pessimistic. Consumers anticipating business conditions to worsen over the next six months eased to 32.4 percent from 33.5 percent, while those expecting conditions to improve edged up to 9.3 percent from 8.5 percent in June.

The outlook for the labor market remains gloomy. The percent of consumers expecting fewer jobs in the months ahead increased to 37.1 percent from 35.7 percent, while those anticipating more jobs remained virtually unchanged at 8.2 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to increase rose to 14.2 percent from 13.1 percent.

The Consumer Confidence Survey is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households. It is conducted for The Conference Board by TNS. The cutoff date for July’s preliminary results was July 22.