Consumer Confidence Sours on Job Outlook

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The Conference Board reported Tuesday morning that its consumer confidence index for the month of April fell slightly from 83.9 in March to 82.3. The expectations index was essentially unchanged, rising from 84.8 in March to 84.9, while the present situation index dropped from 82.5 in March to 78.3.

A conference board executive said:

Consumer confidence declined slightly in April, as consumers assessed current business and labor market conditions less favorably than in March. However, their expectations regarding the short-term outlook for the economy and labor market held steady. Thus, while sentiment regarding current conditions may have slipped a bit, consumers do not foresee the economy, or the labor market, losing the momentum that has been building up over the past several months.

Among those surveyed, confidence in present-day business conditions dropped from 22.6% to 21.8%, while those who believe business conditions worsened rose from 23.5% to 24.4%. Some 12.9% of respondents believe jobs are “plentiful,” down from 13.8% in March, while those who believe jobs are scarce increased from 31.4% to 32.5%.

Expectations for the next six months remained fairly even in April, with respondents who believe business conditions will get better remaining unchanged at 17.4% while those who think conditions will worsen rose slightly from 10.1% to 10.3%. The proportion of respondents expecting their incomes to increase rose from 15.3% in March to 17.1% in April. Respondents expecting a decrease in income also posted a rise, from 11.5% to 12.9%.

Jobs continue to be the weakest link in consumer confidence. With nearly a third of all respondents saying that jobs are still scarce, it seems clear that continued progress to reduce unemployment remains the main concern among consumers.

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