Consumer Confidence Index Edges Down

Impacted by consumers' concerns about jobs and the economy, the Consumer confidence Index slipped in September after having improved in August, The Conference Board reported last week.

The Index is now 53.1, down from 54.5 a month earlier. (Note: 100 equals the average confidence level in 1985.)

"The Present Situation Index decreased [to 22.7 from 25.4], as consumers viewed both current business conditions and the labor market less favorably than last month," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. "While not as pessimistic as earlier this year, consumers remain quite apprehensive about the short-term outlook and their incomes. With the holiday season quickly approaching, this is not very encouraging news."

Consumers who see business conditions as "bad" increased to 46.3% from 44.6%, while those claiming conditions are "good" increased to 8.7% from 8.5%. Jobs are a big concern. Those claiming jobs are "hard to get" increased to 47.0% from 44.3%, while those claiming jobs are "plentiful" decreased to 3.4% from 4.3%.

Their outlook for the next six months also eroded. Those who think business conditions will improve over the short term dropped to 21.3% from 22.2%. Those expecting conditions to worsen fell to 15.0% from 15.2%.

Consumers who expect greater jobs availability in the near term slipped to 17.9% from 18.0%, while those expecting fewer jobs remained the same as August at 23.1%. The proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes increased slightly to 11.2% from 10.8%.

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