Consumer Confidence in September – Another Optimistic Month

The Consumer Confidence Index, reported by the Conference Board, rose in September. Compared with last month, consumers were more optimistic about both the current situation and the near term outlook.

The Consumer Confidence Index rose to 104.1, from 101.8 in August. The present situation index rose to 128.5, from 125.3, and the expectations index increased to 87.8, from 86.1.

Consumers’ assessments of current business conditions were mixed. Assessments shifted from both “good” and “bad” to “normal”. The share of respondents rating business conditions “normal” rose by 4.9 percentage points from 51.5% to 56.4%. A net decline of 2.9 percentage points in assessments of “good” combined with a 2.0 percentage point net decline in assessments of “bad” for the total.

Similar to consumers’ assessments of current business conditions, expectations of business conditions over the next six months were mixed. The share of respondents expecting future business conditions to be the same rose from 71.0% to 73.3%. About half of the increase was the result of a net decline in respondents expecting future business conditions to be worse, an upgrade, while the rest was the result of a net decline in respondents expecting future business conditions to be better, a downgrade.

Consumers’ assessments of current employment conditions improved. The share of respondents reporting that jobs were “hard to get” dropped to 21.6%, from 22.8%. Most of the 1.2 percentage point decline (1.1 percentage point) upgraded to “jobs plentiful”.

Also, consumers’ expectations of employment over the next six months were more upbeat than in August. The share of respondents expecting “more jobs” rose to 15.1%, from 14.4%. Most of the 0.7 percentage point increase (0.5 percentage point) shifted from “fewer jobs”, while the rest shifted from “same jobs”.

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The Conference Board also reports the share of respondents planning to buy a home within six months. The share of respondents planning to buy a home declined to 5.1%, from 6.9%. The share of respondents planning to buy a newly constructed home and an existing home were 0.6% and 3.5%, respectively; the share of respondents who were “uncertain” whether they would buy a newly constructed or an existing home was 1.0%.

Despite the monthly volatility the trend in the share of respondents planning to buy a home within six months has been steadily upward since the end of the recession.

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