Confidence among U.S. consumers unexpectedly increased in November. The Conference Board, a New York-based business research group, said its Consumer Confidence Index increased 0.8% to 49.5 from 48.7 the prior month. After nosediving to an all-time low in February, the overall index has been uptrending as more optimistic economic news helped improve consumers’ moods. But the weak job market continues to weigh on consumer confidence, restrining spending and limiting the recovery from the worst recession since the ’30s.
Here’s the breakdown via The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Survey:
The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index®, which had declined in October, increased slightly in November. The Index now stands at 49.5 (1985=100), up from 48.7 in October. The Present Situation Index was virtually unchanged at 21.0 versus 21.1 last month. The Expectations Index increased to 68.5 from 67.0 in October.
The Consumer Confidence Survey® is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households. The monthly survey is conducted for The Conference Board by TNS. TNS is the world’s largest custom research company. The cutoff date for November’s preliminary results was November 17th.
Says Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center: “Consumer Confidence posted a slight gain in November. The Present Situation Index, however, was virtually unchanged and remains at levels not seen in 26 years (Index 17.5, Feb. 1983). The moderate improvement in the short-term outlook was the result of a decrease in the percent of consumers expecting business and labor market conditions to worsen, as opposed to an increase in the percent of consumers expecting conditions to improve. Income expectations remain very pessimistic and consumers are entering the holiday season in a very frugal mood.”
Consumers’ appraisal of present-day conditions was virtually unchanged in November. Those claiming business conditions are “bad” decreased to 45.7 percent from 46.7 percent, while those claiming conditions are “good” increased to 8.1 percent from 7.8 percent. Consumers’ assessment of the labor market deteriorated moderately. Those claiming jobs are “hard to get” increased to 49.8 percent from 49.4 percent, while those claiming jobs are “plentiful” decreased to 3.2 percent from 3.5 percent.
Consumers’ short-term outlook improved slightly in November. The percentage of consumers expecting an improvement in business conditions over the next six months decreased slightly to 20.0 percent from 20.8 percent, but those expecting conditions to worsen decreased to 15.1 percent from 18.2 percent.
The labor market outlook was also slightly less pessimistic. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead declined to 15.2 percent from 16.8 percent, but those expecting fewer jobs decreased to 23.1 percent from 26.1 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes decreased to 10.0 percent from 10.7 percent.
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