Despite concerns with the economy and current business conditions, the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had decreased in February, rebounded in March, the Board reports. The Index now stands at 52.5 (1985=100), up from 46.4 in February. The Present Situation Index increased to 26 from 21.7. The Expectations Index improved to 70.2 from 62.9 last month.
"Consumer confidence, which had declined sharply in February, managed to recoup most of the loss in March," says Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center. " However, despite this month’s increase, consumers continue to express concern about current business and labor market conditions. And, their outlook for the next six months is still rather pessimistic. Overall, consumer confidence levels have not changed significantly since last spring."
Consumers’ assessment of current-day conditions was less negative in March. Those claiming conditions are "bad" decreased to 42.8 percent from 45.1 percent, while those claiming business conditions are "good" increased to 8.6 percent from 6.8 percent. Consumers’ assessment of the labor market was also less pessimistic. Those saying jobs are "hard to get" declined to 45.8 percent from 47.3 percent, while those saying jobs are "plentiful" increased to 4.4 percent from 4 percent.
The Consumer Confidence Survey is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households. The monthly survey is conducted for The Conference Board by TNS. TNS is the world’s largest custom research company. The cutoff date for March’s preliminary results was March 23.
Consumers’ short-term outlook improved in March. Those anticipating conditions will worsen over the next six months declined to 13.9 percent from 15.9 percent, while those anticipating an improvement increased to 18.3 percent from 16.1 percent.
Regarding the outlook for the labor market, the percentage of consumers expecting fewer jobs in the months ahead decreased to 21.6 percent from 24.7 percent. Those anticipating more jobs will become available increased to 14.6 percent from 13.2 percent. The proportion of consumers anticipating an increase in their incomes improved to 10.5 percent from 10.1 percent.