The Conference Board today announced that its consumer confidence index dipped in February, reversing a two-month increase during the December-January period.
The index now stands at 104 (1985=100), down from 105.1 in January. The present situation index increased to 116.4 from 112.1. The expectations index, however, declined to 95.7 from 100.4 last month.
“Although expectations cooled this month, consumers are more optimistic today than they were a year ago,” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center. “Just as important, consumer confidence about current economic conditions, including the labor market, continues to gather momentum. Despite recent fluctuations, both present and future indicators point toward continued expansion in the months ahead.”
Consumers’ overall assessment of current conditions continues to improve. Those claiming business conditions are “good” eased to 24.9 percent from 26.1 percent, but those claiming conditions are “bad” declined to 15.6 percent from 18.1 percent. The employment picture also improved. Those saying jobs are “hard to get” fell to 22.6 percent from 24.3 percent, while those claiming jobs are “plentiful” was virtually unchanged at 20.9 percent.
Consumers’ outlook for the next six months lost ground in February. Those anticipating business conditions to improve declined to 17.8 percent from 22 percent, but those expecting business conditions to worsen held steady at 7.8 percent. The outlook for the labor market was also somewhat less optimistic. Now, 15.2 percent of consumers, compared to 16.6 percent last month, expect more jobs to become available in the coming months. And, 16.8 percent expect fewer jobs, up from 15.1 percent last month. The proportion of consumers anticipating their incomes to improve in the months ahead edged down to 18.5 percent from 19 percent last month.
The Consumer Confidence Survey is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households.
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