The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index Declined Marginally in August

Staff Report

Wednesday, August 28th, 2019

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index declined marginally in August, following July's rebound. The Index now stands at 135.1 (1985=100), down from 135.8 in July. The Present Situation Index – based on consumers' assessment of current business and labor market conditions – increased from 170.9 to 177.2. The Expectations Index – based on consumers' short-term outlook for income, business and labor market conditions – declined from 112.4 last month to 107.0 this month.

"Consumer confidence was relatively unchanged in August, following July's increase," said Lynn Franco, Senior Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. "Consumers' assessment of current conditions improved further, and the Present Situation Index is now at its highest level in nearly 19 years (Nov. 2000, 179.7). Expectations cooled moderately, but overall remain strong. While other parts of the economy may show some weakening, consumers have remained confident and willing to spend. However, if the recent escalation in trade and tariff tensions persists, it could potentially dampen consumers' optimism regarding the short-term economic outlook." 

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was August 16.

Consumers' assessment of current-day conditions improved in August. The percentage of consumers claiming business conditions are "good" increased from 39.9 percent to 42.0 percent, while those saying business conditions are "bad" decreased from 11.2 percent to 9.8 percent. Consumers' appraisal of the job market was also more favorable. Those saying jobs are "plentiful" increased from 45.6 percent to 51.2 percent, while those claiming jobs are "hard to get" declined from 12.5 percent to 11.8 percent.

Consumers were moderately less optimistic about the short-term outlook in August. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions will be better six months from now decreased from 24.0 percent to 21.9 percent, while those expecting business conditions will worsen increased from 8.4 percent to 10.0 percent.

Consumers' outlook for the labor market was also slightly less positive. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead decreased marginally from 19.9 percent to 19.7 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs increased from 11.1 percent to 13.6 percent. Regarding their short-term income prospects, the percentage of consumers expecting an improvement decreased from 24.9 percent to 23.8 percent, however, the proportion expecting a decrease declined, from 6.6 percent to 5.8 percent.