Despite continuing economic uncertainty, consumers were slightly more optimistic in September, according to the closely watched Consumer Confidence Index.
The Index rebounded in September and is back to levels seen earlier this year (71.6 in February 2012), reports Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board.
"Consumers were more positive in their assessment of current conditions, in particular the job market, and considerably more optimistic about the short-term outlook for business conditions, employment and their financial situation. Despite continuing economic uncertainty, consumers are slightly more optimistic than they have been in several months," Franco said.
The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had declined in August, improved in September. The Index now stands at 70.3 (1985=100), up from 61.3 in August. The Expectations Index increased to 83.7 from 71.1. The Present Situation Index rose to 50.2 from 46.5 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 September 13.
Consumers’ appraisal of present-day conditions improved in September, the Conference Board said. Those claiming business conditions are “good” edged up to 15.5 percent from 15.3 percent, while those saying business conditions are “bad” declined to 33.3 percent from 34.3 percent. Consumers’ assessment of the labor market was also more upbeat. Those stating jobs are “plentiful” rose to 8.3 percent from 7.2 percent, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” edged down to 39.9 percent from 40.6 percent.
Consumers were also more optimistic about the short-term outlook in September. Those expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased to 18.2 percent from 16.7 percent, while those anticipating business conditions to worsen decreased to 13.8 percent from 17.6 percent.
Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was also more favorable. Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead increased to 18.5 percent from 15.8 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs declined to 18.5 percent from 23.7 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes edged up to 16.3 percent from 16.0 percent.