Consumer confidence tumbled this month, falling to its lowest level since last July as The Conference Board’s monthly survey found that people were apprehensive about business conditions and job prospects and concerned about turbulence in the stock markets.
The board said its Consumer Confidence Index declined to 92.2 from 97.8 in January. The index was at its lowest since a reading of 91.0 in July.
“Consumer confidence decreased in February, after posting a modest gain in January,” The Conference Board director of economic indicators Lynn Franco said in a statement.
“Consumers’ assessment of current conditions weakened, primarily due to a less favorable assessment of business conditions. Consumers’ short-term outlook grew more pessimistic, with consumers expressing greater apprehension about business conditions, their personal financial situation, and to a lesser degree, labor market prospects. Continued turmoil in the financial markets may be rattling consumers, but their assessment of current conditions suggests the economy will continue to expand at a moderate pace in the near term.”
Consumers’ assessment of present-day conditions declined in February. The percentage who said business conditions were “good” decreased from 27.7 percent to 26.0 percent. Those who said business conditions are “bad” increased from 18.8 percent to 19.8 percent.
Consumers’ appraisal of the labor market was also less positive. Those who said jobs are “plentiful” decreased from 23.0 percent to 22.1 percent and those who said jobs are “hard to get” rose to 24.2 percent from 23.6 percent.
Consumers were more pessimistic about the short-term outlook than in January. The percentage of consumers who expect business conditions to improve during the next six months declined from 15.9 percent to 14.6 percent; those who expect business conditions to worsen increased from 10.7 percent to 12.0 percent.
Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was less optimistic. Those who anticipate more jobs in the months ahead decreased from 13.4 percent to 12.2 percent; those who anticipate fewer jobs increased slightly, from 17.0 percent to 17.2 percent.
The proportion of consumers who expect their income to increase declined from 18.6 percent to 17.2 percent; the proportion who expect a reduction in income increased from 10.7 percent to 12.5 percent.