Confidence increases slightly in September; current situtation bleak but future looks brighter

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had declined in September, increased slightly in October. The Index now stands at 50.2, up from 48.6 in September. The Present Situation Index, which measures how consumers view their current situation, increased to 23.9 from 23.3. The Expectations Index, which measures future expectations, improved to 67.8 from 65.5.

Consumers’ appraisal of current conditions was somewhat mixed in October. Those claiming business conditions are “bad” decreased to 41.9 percent from 46.0 percent, while those claiming business conditions are “good” edged up to 8.5 percent from 8.2 percent. Consumers’ assessment of the labor market, however, was less favorable in October. Those claiming jobs are “hard to get” rose to 46.1 percent from 45.8 percent, while those stating jobs are “plentiful” decreased to 3.5 percent from 3.8 percent.

Consumers’ expectations, while still quite bleak, were less pessimistic in October. Those expecting an improvement in business conditions over the next six months rose to 16.0 percent from 15.0 percent, while those expecting business conditions will worsen declined to 14.1 percent from 16.6 percent.

Consumers were mixed about future job prospects. The percentage of consumers anticipating fewer jobs in the months ahead declined to 22.0 percent from 22.6 percent. However, the percentage anticipating more jobs declined to 14.1 percent from 14.5 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes declined to 9.1 percent from 10.3 percent.

So while consumers are slightly more confident than they previously were, they are not exactly optimistic.  The real telling data there is that their estimation of the current situation is bleak, their expectations for the future are not optimistic and a improving.  This is a real testament to the optimistic "Can Do" personality embodied in many Americans.  They don't like the current situation, but the future is still bright. 

I wonder if their confidence in the future has anything to do with the expectations of a big win by the GOP in November. 


Conference Board Release


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