The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, which had deteriorated in July, bounced back in August, when it stood at 81.3 (1985 = 100), up from 77. The Expectations Index increased to 94.4 from 86.3. The Present Situation Index, however, declined to 61.6 from 63. “The welcome bounce-back in confidence this month was entirely due to consumers’ increasing optimism about the future,” says Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center. “Growing optimism about the economy over the next six months echoes the latest gain in The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index. However, continued optimism will depend on positive developments in the labor market.”
Consumers’ six-month expectations gained ground compared with July’s report. Those anticipating that business conditions will improve over the next six months rose to 22.5% from 20%. Consumers expecting conditions to deteriorate fell to 10.7% from 11.4%.
But consumers’ appraisal of current business conditions remained lackluster. Those rating present business conditions as “bad” edged up to 30.9% from 30.2%, while those holding the opposite view declined to 15.9% from 16.5%. Labor market conditions were mixed. Those reporting jobs are “hard to get” rose to 34.1% from 32.7% in July. Consumers claiming jobs are “plentiful,” however, increased to 11.1% from 10.7%.