Jobs and business conditions are of most serious concern.
The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index remained virtually unchanged in September following a sharp decline in August. It now stands at 45.4, up slightly from 45.2. The Present Situation Index decreased from 34.3 to 32.5, while the Expectations Index ticked up from 52.4 to 54.
Consumers’ assessment of current conditions weakened last month. Fewer people described business conditions as “good” (11.7 percent from 14.1 percent) while those claiming business conditions are “bad” remained virtually unchanged at 40.4 percent. Those claiming jobs are “hard to get” increased from 48.5 percent to 50 percent, while those stating jobs are “plentiful” increased to 5.5 percent from 4.8 percent.
The short-term outlook, which suffered sharply in August, did improve slightly in September. Those who expect business conditions to improve over the next six months decreased from 11.8 percent to 11.3 percent, while those expecting them to worsen declined to 22.6 percent from 24.6 percent.
There is also slightly less pessimism regarding the job market outlook. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead edged up to 12 percent from 11.8 percent, whole those expecting fewer jobs declined from 31.2 percent to 28.6 percent. The perentage of consumers anticipating an increase in their incomes, however, declined to 13.3 percent from 14.3 percent.
August pessimism “spilled over” into September, Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center, noted in a statement. “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.”
Investors surveyed last month by Millionaire Corner expressed similar pessimistic attitudes. Nearly 55 percent said they are well acquainted with people who are looking but are unable to find work. Nearly 90 percent believe the next generation will live better than the current generation.
In another Millionaire Corner survey, the number of investors who said they were refraining from investing increased for the third straight month. Nearly 40 percent—the highest level in three years—said that the economy continued to be the biggest obstacle in achieving their financial goals at this time.