Consumer Confidence Levels Down In December

Consumer confidence levels were down for a second consecutive month as concerns grew over a slowdown in economic growth during the first quarter of 2019, officials with The Conference Board said.

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index in December is 128.1, down from 136.4 in November. The Present Situation Index— based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions— declined slightly, from 172.7 to 171.6. The Expectations Index— based on consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business and labor market conditions— decreased from 112.3 in November to 99.1 in December.

“Consumer confidence decreased in December, following a moderate decline in November,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “Expectations regarding job prospects and business conditions weakened, but still suggest that the economy will continue expanding at a solid pace in the short-term. While consumers are ending 2018 on a strong note, back-to-back declines in expectations are reflective of an increasing concern that the pace of economic growth will begin moderating in the first half of 2019.”

The percentage of consumers in December saying business conditions are “good” decreased from 42% to 37.2%, while those claiming business conditions are “bad” increased from 10.7% to 11.3%. Consumers’ assessment of the labor market was mixed. Those claiming jobs are “plentiful” decreased marginally from 46.8% to 46.2%, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” declined from 12.6% to 11.6%.

Consumers’ optimism about the short-term future fell in December. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions will improve over the next six months decreased from 21.9% to 18.3%, while those expecting business conditions will worsen increased, from 8.3% to 9.7%.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was also less favorable. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead decreased from 22.7% to 16.6%, while those anticipating fewer jobs increased, from 11.2% to 14.4%.

Regarding their short-term income prospects, the percentage of consumers expecting an improvement declined from 23.2% to 22.4%, while the proportion expecting a decrease rose, from 7.2% to 7.7%.