Consumer Confidence: Cautious But Optimistic

Consumer Confidence was virtually unchanged in April, following a modest decline in March, according to Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. "As was the case last month, the slight dip was prompted by a moderation in consumers’ short-term outlook, while their assessment of current conditions continued to improve. Overall, consumers are more upbeat about the state of the economy, but they remain cautiously optimistic.”

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions improved in April, the Conference Board said. Those claiming business conditions are “good” increased to 15.3 percent from 14.3 percent. However, those claiming business conditions are “bad” edged up to 33.5 percent from 33.2 percent.

Consumers’ appraisal of the job market remained mixed. Those stating jobs are “hard to get” declined to 37.5 percent from 40.7 percent, while those stating jobs are “plentiful” decreased to 8.4 percent from 9.0 percent.

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had declined slightly in March, was virtually unchanged in April. The Index now stands at 69.2 (1985=100), down slightly from 69.5 in March. The Expectations Index declined to 81.1 from 82.5, while the Present Situation Index improved to 51.4 from 49.9 last month.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was April 12.

Consumers were, once again, slightly less optimistic about the short-term outlook, the Conference Board said. Those expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months decreased to 18.8 percent from 19.3 percent, while those anticipating business conditions will worsen increased to 14.2 percent from 13.7 percent.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was less upbeat. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead decreased to 16.9 percent from 17.4 percent, however, those anticipating fewer jobs decreased to 18.0 percent from 18.5 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes declined to 14.0 percent from 15.5 percent.


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