Consumer Confidence Falls in January
Wariness about the year ahead offset a more positive view of the current economic situation.
The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index fell to 107.1 in January from 109 in December, an upward revision from the previously stated 108.3. The Present Situation and Expectation indices also were revised upward for the month.
“Consumer confidence declined in January, but it remains above the level seen last July, lowest in 2022,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, senior director of economics at The Conference Board.
Consumer confidence declined the most for households earning less than $15,000 and for households under age 35, he noted.
The Present Situation Index, which measures consumers’ outlook on current business and labor market conditions, rose to 150.9 in January from 147.4 in December.
The percentage of respondents who said current business conditions are “good” was up to 20 percent from 19 percent in December, while those who said conditions were “bad” decreased, down to 19 percent, compared with 20 percent in December.
Consumers also had a more positive view of the labor market, with 48 percent of respondents saying jobs are “plentiful,” up from 46 percent in the prior period.
The percentage of respondents who felt jobs were “hard to get” was down to 11 percent from 12 percent in December.
The Expectations Index, which measures consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business, and labor market conditions, fell to 77.8 from 83.4.
The index is below 80, which often points to a recession within the next year, said the Conference Board.
Consumers became more pessimistic about the short-term business conditions outlook in January.
Respondents’ view of the short-term business outlook soured, with 19 percent expecting business conditions to improve, down from 21 percent in December.
More consumers expected conditions to worsen, up to 22 percent from 20 percent in the previous period.
Consumers’ view of the short-term labor market was more pessimistic too, with fewer respondents expecting more jobs to be available, down to 18 percent from 20 percent.
Consumers were also slightly more pessimistic about their short-term financial prospects, with 17.2 percent expecting incomes to increase, down from 17.3 percent in December.
More respondents expect their incomes to decrease, up to 13.4 percent from 13.3 percent in December.
“Consumers’ assessment of present economic and labor market conditions improved at the start of 2023. However, the Expectations Index retreated in January reflecting their concerns about the economy over the next six months,” said Ozyildirim.
Though respondents were more pessimistic about the short-term job outlook and are expecting near-term business conditions to worsen, they see their income remaining “relatively stable” in the months ahead, he added.
While purchasing plans for cars and appliances were steady, fewer consumers plan to buy a home, either new or existing.
Consumer expectations for inflation rose to 6.8 percent from 6.6 percent over the next 12 months but are still down from the peak of nearly 8 percent in June 2022.
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