The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index decreased in December, following a modest improvement in November. The Index now stands at 122.1, down from 128.6 in November. The Present Situation Index increased from 154.9 to 156.6, while the Expectations Index declined from 111.0 last month to 99.1 this month.
“Consumer confidence retreated in December after reaching a 17-year high in November,” said Lynn Franco, director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “The decline in confidence was fueled by a somewhat less optimistic outlook for business and job prospects in the coming months. Consumers’ assessment of current conditions, however, improved moderately. Despite the decline in confidence, consumers’ expectations remain at historically strong levels, suggesting economic growth will continue well into 2018.”
Consumers’ appraisal of present-day conditions was slightly more positive in December. The percentage saying business conditions are “good” increased marginally from 35.0 percent to 35.2 percent, while those saying business conditions are “bad” decreased marginally, from 12.3 percent to 12.1 percent. Consumers’ assessment of the labor market was mixed. Those claiming jobs are “plentiful” decreased from 37.5 percent to 35.7 percent, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” also decreased, from 16.8 percent to 15.2 percent (a 16-year low).
Consumers’ optimism about the short-term outlook declined sharply in December. The percentage of consumers anticipating business conditions to improve over the next six months declined from 23.1 percent to 20.2 percent, while those expecting business conditions to worsen increased from 6.7 percent to 9.2 percent.
Consumers’ outlook for the job market was also less upbeat than in November. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead decreased from 21.3 percent to 18.4 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs rose from 12.1 percent to 16.3 percent. Regarding their short-term income prospects, the percentage of consumers expecting an improvement increased from 20.3 percent to 22.3 percent, while the proportion expecting a decrease also rose, from 7.6 percent to 8.9 percent.
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 December 15.