The Consumer Confidence Index dipped slightly in April following a modest decline in March, hurt by consumers’ short-term outlook on the labor front.
In April, the Index fell to 69.2 from 69.5 last month. The Expectations Index, the component that measures short-term outlook six months out, declined to 81.1 from 82.5. The other component, the Present Situation Index, measuring current conditions, improved to 51.4 from 49.9.
Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, said, “As was the case last month, the slight dip was prompted by a moderation in consumers’ short-term outlook, while their assessment of current conditions continued to improve.
IHS Global Insights senior economist Chris G. Christopher Jr. said that, while more respondents think that current economic and employment prospects are brighter, “Americans are feeling more uneasy on the future state of their personal finances and the direction of the economy.”
He added that consumers still face too many negatives to allow for a robust spending recovery, such as high debt burdens and home prices that haven’t yet hit bottom. Moreover, rising gasoline prices are starting to take their toll, keeping consumer confidence in “recession territory.”
Consumers’ appraisal of the job market remained mixed. Looking at current conditions, those who said jobs are “hard to get” fell to 37.5 percent from 40.7 percent, while those who said jobs are “plentiful” decreased to 8.4 percent from 9 percent.
On a short-term basis, consumers were less optimistic. Those expecting business conditions to improve declined to 18.8 percent from 19.3 percent, while respondents anticipating business conditions to worsen rose to 14.2 percent from 13.7 percent.
The outlook for the labor market six months out was less upbeat, as was the proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead fell to 16.9 percent from 17.4 percent. Consumers who were expecting an increase in their incomes decreased to 14 percent from 15.5 percent.