New York—U.S. consumer confidence fell to a seven-month low in September as COVID-19 infections continue to rise.
The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index fell to 109.3 in September from 115.2 in August, falling short of analyst estimates of 114.5.
The decrease marks the third consecutive monthly decline and the lowest level since February.
“Consumer confidence dropped in September as the spread of the Delta variant continued to dampen optimism,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board, in a press release announcing the results.
Consumers were less than optimistic about their current financial prospects.
The Present Situation Index, which measures consumers’ outlook on current business and labor market conditions, fell to 143.4 from 148.9 last month.
“Concerns about the state of the economy and short-term growth prospects deepened, while spending intentions for homes, autos, and major appliances all retreated again. Short-term inflation concerns eased somewhat, but remain elevated.”
The percent of consumers that said current business conditions are “good,” decreased to 19.3 percent month-over-month from 20.2 percent. Those who said conditions were “bad” increased to 25.4 percent compared with 24.1 percent in August.
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Consumers had mixed feelings about the labor market, with 55.9 percent of consumers saying jobs are “plentiful” compared with 55.6 percent last month.
However, the percentage of those who said jobs are “hard to get” increased to 13.4 percent from 11.2 percent.
The Expectations Index, which measures consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business, and labor market conditions, fell to 86.6 from 92.8 last month.
Consumers’ optimism soured when looking to the short term, with the percentage of consumers expecting short-term business conditions to improve over the next six months decreasing to 21.5 percent from 23.4 percent.
More consumers expect business conditions to worsen, increasing to 17.6 percent from 17.4 percent.
Looking at the short-term labor market, 21.5 percent consumers expect to see more jobs in the months ahead, down from 23.1 percent.
The percentage of consumers expecting to see fewer jobs increased to 20.3 percent, compared with 18 percent last month.
Looking at short-term income, the percentage of consumers expecting an increase decreased to 17.3 percent from 18.2 percent.
More consumers expect their incomes to decrease, up to 11.5 percent from 9.9 percent.
“Consumer confidence is still high by historical levels—enough to support further growth in the near-term—but the Index has now fallen 19.6 points from the recent peak of 128.9 reached in June,” noted Franco.
“These back-to-back declines suggest consumers have grown more cautious and are likely to curtail spending going forward.”