NEW YORK–After a sharp decline in August, the consumer confidence index from The Conference Board remained essentially unchanged this month, finishing at 45.4 or up 0.2 point.
The index’s two component indexes, present situation and expectation, headed in opposite directions in the September survey. The present situation index was 32.5, down 1.8 points, while the expectations index rose 1.6 points to 54.0.
Consumers who were surveyed for the monthly indicator indicated that their view of the current business situation was mixed. While a lesser percentage of consumers said current business conditions are “good” and a greater percentage said jobs are “hard to get,” a larger percentage also said jobs are “plentiful.” Consumers’ outlook over the next six months improved over the August survey, with larger percentages anticipating more jobs, and a smaller percentage saying business conditions will worsen.
Lynn Franco, director of the Consumer Research Center for The Conference Board, said that while consumer expectations rose marginally this month, “consumers expressed greater concern about their expected earnings, a sign that does not bode well for spending.” The fact that consumers’ assessment of current business conditions declined for the fifth consecutive month is “a sign that the economic environment remains weak,” Franco said.