November Consumer Confidence Dipped From 18-Year High

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The Conference Board reported Tuesday morning that its consumer confidence index for November dipped from an 18-year high of 137.9 in October to 135.7. The expectations index dropped from 115.1 to 111, and the present situation index rose slightly from 171.9 to 172.7. The consensus estimate for November called for a decline to an overall index reading of 136.5.

The assessment of present-day conditions improved slightly in November. The percentage of consumers who said business conditions are “good” rose from 41% to 41.2%, while those claiming business conditions are “bad” increased more sharply, from 9.4% to 10.9%.

Consumers’ assessment of the November labor market improved somewhat. The proportion stating jobs are “plentiful” was increased from 45.4% to 46.6%, and those claiming jobs are “hard to get” dropped from 13.4% to 12.2%.

Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said:

Despite a small decline in November, Consumer Confidence remains at historically strong levels. Consumers’ assessment of current conditions increased slightly, with job growth the main driver of improvement. Expectations, on the other hand, weakened somewhat in November, primarily due to a less optimistic view of future business conditions and personal income prospects. Overall, consumers are still quite confident that economic growth will continue at a solid pace into early 2019. However, if expectations soften further in the coming months, the pace of growth is likely to begin moderating.

On the jobs front, expectations for new jobs increased slightly from 22.3% to 22.8% in November, and the number of respondents who expect fewer jobs also rose slightly from 10.6% to 11.1%. Regarding their own income prospects, 21.5% expect an improvement in the short term, down from 24.7% in October. The proportion expecting a decrease in income also declined, from 8.2% to 7.8%.

Optimism about the short-term outlook slipped in November. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months decreased from 26.3% to 22.5%, while those expecting business conditions to worsen increased from 7.2% to 8.8%.

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Survey is based on a probability-design random sample and is conducted for the Conference Board by Nielsen. The index baseline is 1985 = 100.