Consumer Confidence Slips In November

While remaining at an overall healthy level, consumer confidence put the brakes on a trend observed over the last few months and ticked down in November. The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index slipped to 135.7 in November, down from 137.9 in October.

“Despite a small decline in November, consumer confidence remains at historically strong levels,” says Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “Consumers’ assessment of current conditions increased slightly, with job growth the main driver of improvement. Expectations, on the other hand, weakened somewhat in November, primarily due to a less optimistic view of future business conditions and personal income prospects. Overall, consumers are still quite confident that economic growth will continue at a solid pace into early 2019. However, if expectations soften further in the coming months, the pace of growth is likely to begin moderating.”

Looking closer at the Conference Board’s results, its Present Situation Index improved slightly, from 171.9 in October to 172.7, while its Expectations Index slipped down to 111 in November from 115.1 last month.

The Conference Board found that consumers' November assessment of current conditions improved somewhat from the previous month. Those describing business conditions as "good" increased slightly from 41 percent to 41.2 percent, while those saying they were "bad" ticked up from 9.4 percent to 10.9 percent. Consumers had a more favorable perception on the labor market, however, with those stating that jobs are "plentiful" increasing from 45.4 percent to 46.6 percent, and those claiming they are "hard to get" decreasing from 13.4 percent to 12.2 percent.

Consumers' optimism about the short-term outlook took a downward turn in November. The share expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months decreased from 26.3 percent to 22.5 percent, while those anticipating worsening business conditions increased, from 7.2 percent to 8.8 percent. The outlook on the labor market was mixed. The share of consumers expecting more jobs in the months ahead increased slightly from 22.3 percent to 22.8 percent, although those anticipating fewer jobs also ticked up, from 10.6 percent to 11.1 percent. Regarding their short-term income prospects, the percentage of consumers expecting an improvement declined from 24.7 percent to 21.5 percent, while the share expecting a decrease also declined, from 8.2 percent to 7.8 percent.

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

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