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A big jump in the confidence index

The Conference Board's latest bonanza of consumer stats is underlined with optimism.

BY Marianne Wilson

Consumers regained their confidence in July, sending a closely-watched metric to its highest level this year.

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index rebounded in July to 135.7, up from 124.3 in June. The sharp decline in June was driven by an escalation in trade and tariff tensions, according to the Conference Board.

The Present Situation Index – based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions – increased from 164.3 to 170.9. The Expectations Index – based on consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business and labor market conditions – increased from 97.6 last month to 112.2 this month.

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“Consumers are once again optimistic about current and prospective business and labor market conditions,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “In addition, their expectations regarding their financial outlook also improved. These high levels of confidence should continue to support robust spending in the near-term despite slower growth in GDP.”

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a global provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was July 18.

Consumers’ assessment of present-day conditions improved in July. Those claiming business conditions are “good” increased from 37.5% to 40.1%, however, those saying business conditions are “bad” also increased slightly, from 10.6% to 11.2%. Consumers’ appraisal of the job market was also more favorable. Those saying jobs are “plentiful” increased from 44.0% to 46.2%, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” declined from 15.8% to 12.8%.

Consumers were more optimistic about the short-term outlook in July. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions will be better six months from now increased from 19.% to 24.0%, while those expecting business conditions will worsen declined from 12.6% to 8.7%.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was also more upbeat. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead increased from 17.5% to 20.5%, while those anticipating fewer jobs decreased from 13.9% to 11.5%.

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