Following an increase last month that was driven by a positive outlook for the future, the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index fell from 54.5 in August to 53.1 in September 2009, primarily on continued anxiety about the employment? situation in the US, reports Retailer Daily.?
The most drastic decline came in the Present Situation Index, with the future-looking Expectations Index declining only half a percentage point. Brief highlights from each index follow.
Present Situation Index
The Present Situation Index decreased from 25.4 in August to 22.7 in September. The percentage of consumers rating current business conditions as “bad” increased from 44.6% to 46.3%, while the percentage rating current business conditions “good” also slightly increased, from 8.5% to 8.7%.
Meanwhile, the percentage of consumers saying jobs are currently “hard to get” increased from 44.3% to 47%, while those claiming jobs are “plentiful” decreased from 4.3% to 3.4%.
While consumers are still less optimistic about the direction of the economy and labor market in the next six months than they were in August, the Expectations Index suffered a less dramatic fall than the Present Situation Index. The percentage of consumers anticipating an improvement in business conditions during the next six months decreased from 22.2% to 21.3%, while while the percentage expecting conditions to worsen also slightly decreased, from 15.2% to 15%.
The labor market outlook was virtually unchanged. The percentage of consumers xpecting more jobs in the next six months edged down from 18% to 17.9%, while the percentage expecting fewer jobs remained the same at 23.1%. The proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes increased slightly from 10.8% to 11.2%.
Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center, said consumers are not as pessimistic as they were earlier this year, but remain apprehensive about the short-term outlook and their incomes. “With the holiday season quickly approaching, this is not very encouraging news,” said Franco.
About the index: The monthly Consumer Confidence survey is based on a representative sample of 5,000 US households. The monthly survey is conducted for The Conference Board by TNS. The cutoff date for September’s preliminary results was September 22, 2009.