Consumer confidence steady as she goes


ConsumersEconomically speaking, this is not a time of rapid mood swings. According to the closely-watched Conference Board survey of consumer confidence, the small amount of ground lost from June to July has been regained in August, leaving America with a “moderately more upbeat” populace.

The baseline Consumer Confidence Index is up half a point from July to 81.5; the gain was fueled by an increase from 70.7 to 73.6 in the Present Situation Index and a gain from 86.0 to 88.7 in the forward-looking Expectations Index.
Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators, said: “Consumer Confidence increased slightly in August, a result of improving short-term expectations. Consumers were moderately more upbeat about business, job and earning prospects. In fact, income expectations, which had declined sharply earlier this year with the payroll tax hike, have rebounded to their highest level in two and a half years. Consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions, on the other hand, was somewhat less favorable than last month.”

Oddly, the gain in consumer confidence came in the face of a bit of pessimism on the current business conditions front: Only 18.4% believe current conditions are good, down from 20.8%. On the flip side, 24.8% believe current conditions are bad, on par with the July response.

There were both ups and downs measuring consumer sentiment regarding the jobs market. Only 11.4% believe jobs are easy to find, down from 12.3%; but only 33% believe they are hard to find, also down, from 35.2%.

Looking ahead, there was a slight increase in expectations. 20.1% expect economic improvement, compared to 19.9% in July; and 11.1% expect economic reversals, down from 11.3%.

The Conference Board used research from Nielsen to produce its monthly confidence report.