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Consumer Confidence Remains Mostly Unchanged in September

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The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, which had declined sharply in August, remained essentially unchanged in September.

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The index now stands at 45.4 (1985=100), up slightly from 45.2 in August. The Present Situation Index decreased to 32.5 from 34.3. The Expectations Index edged up to 54.0 from 52.4 last month.

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions weakened further in September. Those claiming business conditions are “good” decreased to 11.7% from 14.1%, while those claiming business conditions are “bad” remained virtually unchanged at 40.4%.

Consumers’ appraisal of employment conditions, however, was mixed. Those claiming jobs are “hard to get” increased to 50.0% from 48.5%, while those stating jobs are “plentiful” increased to 5.5% from 4.8%.

Consumers’ short-term outlook, which had deteriorated sharply last month, improved slightly in September. Those expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months decreased to 11.3% from 11.8%, while those expecting business conditions to worsen declined to 22.6% from 24.6%.

Consumers were also slightly less pessimistic about the outlook for the job market. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead edged up to 12.0% from 11.8%, while those expecting fewer jobs declined to 28.6% from 31.2%. The proportion of consumers anticipating an increase in their incomes, however, declined to 13.3% from 14.3%.

“The pessimism that shrouded consumers in August spilled over into September. Consumer expectations, which had plummeted in August, posted a marginal gain,” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. “However, consumers expressed greater concern about their expected earnings, a sign that does not bode well for spending. In addition, consumers’ assessment of current conditions declined for the fifth consecutive month, a sign that the economic environment remains weak.”

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was September 15.

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