Consumer confidence remained low and continues to be very volatile. The October reading of the Conference Board Index of Consumer Confidence Index inched up 1.6 points to 50.2 in October after a 4.6 point decline September. The index has shown very little improvement since the end of the recession in June last year, when the index was 49.32.
Consumers’ view of both their current situation and their outlook improved marginally in October, with the present situation index up 0.6 points to 23.9 and the expectations index lifting 1.3 points to 65.5. The Conference Board notes that “Consumers assessment of the current state of the economy is relatively unchanged, primarily because labor market conditions have yet to significantly improve.” Concerns about the employment situation appear to be weighing heavily on consumers’ attitudes, with 46% respondents claiming that jobs are hard to get, the fourth consecutive rise in this measure. Consumers don’t expect the employment situation to improve any time soon either, with 20% of respondents expecting fewer jobs in the next six months and only 14% expecting more jobs.
Confidence in the housing market showed little change in October, with 2.1% of respondents indicating that they were planning to buy a home in the next 6 months – up from 2.0% in September. However, there was a decline in those considering buying a new home in October, down to 0.3% of respondents from 0.4% in September.
The one positive from the October consumer confidence report was that consumers’ appraisal of business conditions are improving, with those claiming business conditions are bad, falling to 42% from 46% in September. Their expectations of business conditions are also improving, with a decline in the proportion of respondents claiming business conditions are getting worse, down to 14% from 16% in September and an increase in those believing business conditions are getting better, up to 16% from 15% in September.