Consumer Confidence Up, Second Month in a Row

The Conference Board credits “jobs, wages and declining gas prices” for the 4.4-point Sept. rise. Both current outlooks and future expectations increased.

BOSTON – The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index increased in September for the second consecutive month and now stands at 108.0, up from 103.6 in August.

The Present Situation Index – based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions – rose to 149.6 from 145.3 last month.

The Expectations Index – based on consumers’ short-term future outlook for income, business, and labor market conditions – increased to 80.3 from 75.8.

“Consumer confidence improved in September for the second consecutive month supported in particular by jobs, wages, and declining gas prices,” says Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “The Present Situation Index rose again after declining from April through July. The Expectations Index also improved from summer lows.”

Franco notes that recession risks persist, but “concerns about inflation dissipated further in September – prompted largely by declining prices at the gas pump – and are now at their lowest level since the start of the year.”

While consumer attitudes about buying big-ticket items such as cars rose, however, their attitudes about buying a home fell. The homebuyer drop-off “no doubt reflects rising mortgage rates and a cooling housing market,” says Franco.

“Looking ahead, the improvement in confidence may bode well for consumer spending in the final months of 2022, but inflation and interest-rate hikes remain strong headwinds to growth in the short term.”

Present situation

Consumers’ appraisal of current business conditions was more favorable in September:

  • 20.8% said business conditions were “good,” up from 19.0%
  • 21.2% said business conditions were “bad,” down from 22.6%

Consumers’ assessment of the labor market also improved:

  • 49.4% said jobs were “plentiful,” up from 47.6%
  • 11.4% said jobs were “hard to get,” down slightly from 11.6%

Expectations six months in the future

Consumers were more upbeat about short-term business conditions:

  • 19.3% expect business conditions to improve, up from 17.3%
  • 21.0% expect business conditions to worsen, down from 21.7%

They were also more optimistic about the short-term labor market:

  • 17.5% expect more jobs to be available, up from 17.1%
  • 17.7% anticipate fewer jobs, down from 19.6%

However, consumer attitudes were mixed about their short-term financial prospects:

  • 18.4% expect their incomes to increase, up from 16.6%
  • Conversely, 14.3% expect their incomes will decrease, up from 13.9%

Toluna conducts the monthly Consumer Confidence Survey for The Conference Board. The cutoff date for preliminary results was Sept. 20.

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