Consumer confidence rebounded in March.
The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index improved this month after decreasing in February. The Index is now at 96.2, up from 94 last month. The present situation component slipped to 113.5 from 115, while the expectations portion of the index rose to 84.7 from 79.9.
Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board, said, “Consumers’ assessment of current conditions posted a moderate decline, while expectations regarding the short-term turned more favorable as last month’s turmoil in the financial markets appears to have abated. On balance, consumers do not foresee the economy gaining any significant momentum in the near-term, nor do they see it worsening.”
The Conference Board’s survey had a cutoff date of March 17 for preliminary results.
According to the responses, consumers’ appraisal of current conditions eased in March. Those who said business conditions were “good” fell to 24.9 percent from 26.5 percent. Those who said business conditions were “bad” dipped to 18.8 percent from 19 percent. Consumers’ appraisal of the labor market were mixed, with those who said jobs are “plentiful” rose to 25.4 percent from 22.8 percent. However, the respondents who said jobs are “hard to get” rose to 26.6 percent from 23.6 percent.
The expectations index showed consumers were more optimistic about conditions six months out. Those who said they expect business conditions to improve over the next six months inched up to 15 percent from 14.5 percent. Those who said they expect business conditions to worsen fell to 9.2 percent from 11.6 percent.
That confidence was also evident in consumers’ responses about the labor front. Respondents who said they expect more jobs in the months ahead increased slightly to 12.9 percent from 12.2 percent. Those who anticipate fewer jobs fell to 16.3 percent from 17.7 percent.
Even though consumers were more optimistic about the labor market, they were slightly less upbeat about their own income levels. The number of consumers who said they expect their income to go up slipped to 17.2 percent from 17.7 percent, while the number anticipating a reduction in income edged up slightly to 11.8 percent from 11.6 percent.