U.S. Consumer Confidence Index declines in October

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, which had declined in September, posted another loss in October. The Index now stands at 92.8 (1985=100), down from 96.7 in September. The Expectations Index declined to 92.0 from 97.7. The Present Situation Index dipped to 94.2 from 95.3.

“Subdued expectations, as opposed to eroding present-day conditions, were the major cause behind October’s decline in consumer confidence,” says Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center. “And, while consumers’ assessment of the labor market this month showed a moderate improvement, the gain was not sufficient to ease concerns about job growth in the months ahead.”

Consumers’ assessment of overall current conditions was mixed. Those saying business conditions are “good” fell to 21.7% from 23.4%. Those saying conditions are “bad” edged up to 21.4% from 20.4%. On the employment front, consumers saying jobs are “plentiful” increased to 17.4% from 16.6%, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” eased to 27.8% from 28% in September.

Consumers’ outlook for the next six months turned more cautious. Those anticipating conditions to worsen increased to 10.3% from 9.4%. Consumers expecting business conditions to improve dropped to 20.6% from 21.6%.

The employment outlook was also more subdued. Consumers expecting fewer jobs to become available in the coming months rose to 18.4% from 16.2%, while those anticipating more jobs to become available slipped to 16.5% from 17.8%. The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to improve in the months ahead dipped to 18.4% from 20% 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 October’s preliminary results was Oct. 19.