The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had declined sharply in February, was flat in March. The Index now stands at 26 (1985=100), up from 25.3 in February. The Present Situation Index declined to 21.5 from 22.3 last month. The Expectations Index increased to 28.9 from 27.3 in February.
“Consumer Confidence was relatively unchanged in March, after reaching an all-time low in February (Index began in 1967),” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. “The Present Situation Index suggests that the overall state of the economy remains weak and that more job losses are on the horizon. Apprehension about the outlook for the economy, the labor market and earnings continues to weigh heavily on consumers’ attitudes. Looking ahead, consumers remain extremely pessimistic about the short-term future and do not foresee a turnaround in economic conditions over the coming six months.”
Consumers’ assessment of overall present-day conditions remains unfavorable. Those claiming business conditions are “bad” rose to 51.1 percent from 50.5 percent, while those claiming business conditions are “good” edged down to 6.8 percent from 7 percent last month.
Consumers’ appraisal of the labor market was somewhat more pessimistic in March. The percentage of consumers saying jobs are “hard to get” increased to 48.7 percent from 46.9 percent in February, while those claiming jobs are “plentiful” was unchanged at 4.6 percent.
Consumers’ short-term outlook was moderately less negative this month. Consumers expecting business conditions will worsen over the next six months edged down to 39.1 percent from 40.7 percent, while those anticipating conditions to improve increased to 9.1 percent from 8.5 percent in February.
The employment outlook was also moderately less pessimistic. The percentage of consumers expecting fewer jobs in the months ahead decreased to 42.6 percent from 47 percent, while those expecting more jobs edged up to 7.1 percent from 6.8 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes declined to 7.5 percent from 7.9 percent.
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, a custom research company. The cutoff date for March’s preliminary results was March 24.