Consumers were cautious in July, which kept The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index essentially flat for the month.
The Index dipped slightly to 97.3 from 97.4 in June. The Present Situation portion rose to 118.3 from 116.6, while the Expectations Component slipped to 83.3 from 84.6. The Index’s results held steady after showing improvement in June.
The latest results, although decent, are down from the Index’s highest level reached in September 2015 over the rolling 12 months. At that point in time, the Index was at 102.6, with the Present Situation Index at 120.3 and the Expectations Index at 90.8.
Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board, said, “Consumers were slightly more positive about current business and labor market conditions, suggesting the economy will continue to expand at a moderate pace.”
While those who said current business conditions are good rose to 28.1 percent from 26.8 percent, that optimism wasn’t reflected in their expectations for down the road: The percentage of respondents who expect conditions to improve six months out fell to 15.9 percent from 16.6 percent.
On the labor front, their current appraisal of labor conditions was unchanged from last month. Those who said jobs are plentiful dipped to 23 percent from 23.2 percent, while those who said they expect more jobs in the months ahead was unchanged at 14 percent. Those who said they expect fewer jobs six months out slipped slightly to 17 percent from 17.7 percent.
While the responses on business expectations impact consumers’ beliefs on the future availability of jobs, it’s their opinion of the jobs picture in the months ahead that reflects their confidence and their ability to spend. In the latest survey, the percentage of consumers who expect their incomes to rise declined to 16.6 percent from 18.2 percent.