Consumer Confidence Slips In March

The Conference Board reports that consumer sentiment slipped in March, following an increase in February. Its Consumer Confidence Index now stands at 127.7, down from 130 the month before.

"Consumer confidence declined moderately in March after reaching an 18-year high in February," says Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. "Consumers' assessment of current conditions declined slightly, with business conditions the primary reason for the moderation. Consumers' short-term expectations also declined, including their outlook for the stock market, but overall expectations remain quite favorable. Despite the modest retreat in confidence, index levels remain historically high and suggest further strong growth in the months ahead."

Breaking down the Conference Board’s results, the Present Situation Index decreased from 161.2 to 159.9, while the Expectations Index declined from 109.2 last month to 106.2 this month. While the share of respondents describing business conditions as “good” rose from 36.5 percent to 37.9 percent, those describing conditions as “bad” also increased, from 11.3 percent to 13.4 percent. The impression of the labor market was more favorable. Those saying that jobs are "plentiful" increased from 39.1 percent to 39.9 percent, while those claiming they were "hard to get" decreased from 15.1 percent to 14.9 percent.

The short-term outlook for business conditions took a downward turn. The percentage of consumers expecting conditions to improve over the next six months slipped from 25 percent to 23 percent. And the share expecting conditions to worsen ticked up from 9.4 percent to 9.8 percent.

The outlook on the job market also grew less optimistic in March. The percentage of consumers expecting more jobs in the months ahead slipped from 22.4 percent to 19.1 percent, while the share expecting fewer jobs increased from 12.4 percent to 12.6 percent. Regarding short-term income prospects, the number of consumers anticipating an improvement decreased from 23.5 percent to 22 percent; however, the proportion expecting a decrease also declined, from 8.6 percent to 7.2 percent.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen.

 

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