Consumer Confidence Falls Back Down

Consumer confidence has hit a low, according to The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index. The Index slipped to 38.0 in December, which tied the low mark hit in October. It had risen to 44.7 in November.

The Conference Board’s Present Situation Index plummeted to 29.4 from 42.3 last month, while the Expectations Index decreased slightly to 43.8 from 46.2 in November.

The good news? Maybe this is as low as it goes. Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center, says the representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households is starting to exhibit some signs that the consumer confidence levels have reached rock bottom.

“What signals recovery in our eyes is that even though there are still declines in Present Situation Index, the Expectation Index is higher than it was in October,” says Franco. “But we’ve still seen massive deterioration in the indexes in the last three months alone.”

The Conference Board’s survey shows that Present Situation Index is now close to levels last seen in the months following the 1990-91 recession, but is not as low as levels reached during the 1981-82 recession.

The consumers claiming business conditions are “bad” increased to 46.0% from 40.6%, while those saying business conditions are “good” declined to 7.7% from 10.1% last month. Consumers saying jobs are “hard to get” rose to 42.0% from 37.1% in November, while those that believe jobs are “plentiful” decreased to 6.2% from 8.7%.

Consumers anticipating business conditions to worsen over the next six months increased to 32.8% from 28.3%. But the percentage of respondents that expect conditions to improve rose to 13.4% from 11.5%.

The percentage of consumers anticipating fewer jobs in the months ahead increased to 41.0% from 33.7%, while those expecting more jobs rose to 9.7% from 9.2%. And finally, the proportion of consumers anticipating an increase in their incomes decreased to 12.7% from 13.1%.

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