Despite Modest Decline, Consumer Confidence Suggests Strong Growth Ahead

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - FEBRUARY 27: A shopper carries a shopping bag while walking in the Union Square district on February 27, 2018 in San Francisco, California. The U.S. consumer confidence index surged to 130.80 in February, its highest level since November 2000. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The confidence of American consumers declined a bit in March, as consumers’ expectations for the future market fell from extremely high levels seen in February.

The Conference Board’s index of consumer confidence fell to 127.7, below the consensus forecast of economists of 131. In February, the index hit 130, an 18 year high. The present situation index fell to 159.9 from 161.2, while the expectations index fell to 106.2 from 109.2.

“Despite the modest retreat in confidence, the index levels remain historically high and suggest further strong growth in the months ahead,” said Lynn Franco, director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board.

The percentage of consumers saying business conditions are good rose to 37.9 percent from 36.5 percent in February. That was offset, however, by a rise in those claiming business conditions are bad, which rose from 11.3 percent to 13.4 percent.

Consumers were slightly less optimisitic about the future. The percentage anticipating improving business conditions six months from now fell to 23 percent from 25 percent. Those expecting business conditions to get worse rose to 9.8 percent from 9.4 percent.

Those saying jobs are “plentiful” rose to 39.9 percent, up from 39.1 percent last month. Those saying they are “hard to get” fell to 14.9 percent from 15.1 percent. The portion expecting more jobs in the months ahead decreased to 19.1 percent from 22.4 percent. This may reflect very low unemployment levels, which can slow job creation.

 

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