Consumer Confidence Index rebounds in December

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, which had been on the decline since August, rebounded in December. The Index now stands at 102.3 (1985=100), up from 92.6 in November. The Expectations Index rose to 99.9 from 90.2. The Present Situation Index increased to 105.9 from 96.3.

“The continuing economic expansion, combined with job growth, has consumers ending the year on a high note,” says Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center. “The most significant contributor to the rebound in confidence has been the overall improvement in current conditions over the past twelve months. And consumers’ outlook suggests that the economy will continue to expand in the first half of the new year.”

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions was significantly more favorable than last month. Those claiming business conditions are “good” increased to 24.4% from 23.2%, while those claiming conditions are “bad” fell to 17.8% from 20.2%.

The employment picture also improved in December. Consumers saying jobs are “plentiful” increased to 19.4% from 17.1%, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” declined to 26.4% from 28%.

Consumers’ outlook for the next six months was more upbeat. Those expecting business conditions to improve rose to 22% from 20.3% last month. Those anticipating business conditions to worsen fell to 7.7% from 11.4%.

The labor market outlook was also more optimistic. Consumers expecting fewer jobs to become available in the coming months declined to 15.5% from 19.3%. However, those anticipating more jobs to become available eased to 16.2% from 17.6%. The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to improve in the months ahead edged up to 20.7% from 19.2% 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. TNS NFO is one of the TNS group of companies. The cutoff date for December’s preliminary results was Dec. 20.