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Consumer Confidence Slips A Bit from All Time Highs

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), joined by House Democrats, delivers remarks during a DCCC election watch party at the Hyatt Regency on November 6, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
Zach Gibson/Getty
JOHN CARNEY

Consumers were a bit less ebullient in November.

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index declined in November, following an improvement in October. The Index now stands at 135.7, down from 137.9 in October.

In November, consumers saw the Democrats win enough votes to take control of the House of Representatives. The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index declined a bit after the election, mostly on a decline of sentiment among wealthier Americans.

As well, the major stock indexes declined in November. Some economists believe the performance of the stock market impacts consumer confidence.

“Despite a small decline in November, Consumer Confidence remains at historically strong levels,” said Lynn Franco, Senior Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board.

Americans still feel good about the current economic climate. The index’s gauges of current conditions improved slightly. But the expectations index fell by more, bringing down the overall figure.

The improved view of current conditions was helped by a more favorable assessment of the labor market. Those claiming jobs are “plentiful” increased from 45.4 percent to 46.6 percent, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” decreased from 13.4 percent to 12.2 percent, according to the Conference Board.

But the outlook for the labor market was divided. While the number of consumers expecting job growth increased, so did the number expecting fewer jobs.

Similarly, the share of consumers saying business conditions are good rose along with the share saying conditions are bad. Still, the positive view far outweighs the negative. Forty-one percent of consumers say conditions are good, and just 10.9 percent say they are bad.

Optimism about the future dipped in November. The share of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months fell from 26.3 percent to 22.5 percent, while those expecting business conditions will get worse increased, from 7.2 percent to 8.8 percent.

“Overall, consumers are still quite confident that economic growth will continue at a solid pace into early 2019. However, if expectations soften further in the coming months, the pace of growth is likely to begin moderating,” Franco said.

 

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