The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index decreased in March, following an increase in February, according to the latest report from The Conference Board. The Index now stands at 127.7, down from 130.0 in February. The Present Situation Index decreased from 161.2 to 159.9, while the Expectations Index declined from 109.2 last month to 106.2 this month.
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 March 15.
“Consumer confidence declined moderately in March after reaching an 18-year high in February,” said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “Consumers’ assessment of current conditions declined slightly, with business conditions the primary reason for the moderation. Consumers’ short-term expectations also declined, including their outlook for the stock market, but overall expectations remain quite favorable. Despite the modest retreat in confidence, index levels remain historically high and suggest further strong growth in the months ahead.”
Consumers’ assessment of current conditions eased in March. The percentage saying business conditions are “good” increased from 36.5 percent to 37.9 percent, however those claiming business conditions are “bad” also increased, from 11.3 percent to 13.4 percent. Consumers’ assessment of the labor market was marginally more favorable. Those claiming jobs are “plentiful” increased from 39.1 percent to 39.9 percent, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” decreased from 15.1 percent to 14.9 percent.
Consumers were moderately less optimistic about the short-term outlook in March. The percentage of consumers anticipating business conditions will improve over the next six months decreased from 25.0 percent to 23 percent, while those expecting business conditions will worsen increased from 9.4 percent to 9.8 percent.
Consumers’ outlook for the job market was also less positive. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead decreased from 22.4 percent to 19.1 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs increased from 12.4 percent to 12.6 percent. Regarding their short-term income prospects, the percentage of consumers expecting an improvement decreased from 23.5 percent to 22 percent, however, the proportion expecting a decrease also declined, from 8.6 percent to 7.2 percent.