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U.S. Consumer Confidence Bounces Back in Nov.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023   /   by Richard Eimers

U.S. Consumer Confidence Bounces Back in Nov.

monthly consumer confidence report from the Conference Board.

The index rose above 100 in November to 102.0, an increase from 99.1 in October.

The Present Situation Index – consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions – ticked down slightly to 138.2 from October’s 138.6. The Expectations Index –consumers’ short-term future outlook for income, business and labor market conditions – rose to 77.8 from a downwardly revised reading of 72.7 in October.

While consumer fears of an impending recession abated slightly – to the lowest levels seen this year – around two-thirds of consumers surveyed in November still perceive a recession to be “somewhat” or “very likely” to occur over the next 12 months. The Conference Board calls that “consistent with the short and shallow recession we anticipate in the first half of 2024.”

“Consumer confidence increased in November following three consecutive months of decline,” says Dana Peterson, chief economist at The Conference Board, mainly due to a boost in future expectations.

“November’s increase in consumer confidence was concentrated primarily among householders aged 55 and up,” says Peterson. “By contrast, confidence among householders aged 35-54 declined slightly. General improvements were seen across the spectrum of income groups surveyed in November. Nonetheless, write-in responses revealed consumers remain preoccupied with rising prices in general (inflation), followed by war/conflicts and higher interest rates.”

Present situation

“Assessments of the present situation ticked down in November, driven by less optimistic views on current job availability, which outweighed slightly improved views on the state of business conditions,” says Peterson. “More consumers said that business conditions were ‘good’ compared to last month, but more also said they were ‘bad.’ Regarding the employment situation, more consumers said that jobs were ‘plentiful’ compared to October, but the number saying jobs were ‘hard to get’ also increased.”

Consumers were also asked about their family’s current financial situation, though the answers are part of the Present Situation Index. But there was notable improvement there, too.

“When asked to assess their current family financial conditions, the share reporting ‘good’ rose, and those citing ‘bad’ fell, suggesting consumer finances remain healthy heading into the holiday season,” says Peterson.

    • 19.8% of consumers said business conditions were “good,” up from 18.3% in October

    • But 19.5% said business conditions were “bad,” up from 18.8%

    • 39.3% said jobs were “plentiful,” up slightly from 37.9% in October

    • But 15.4% of consumers said jobs were “hard to get,” up from 14.1%

Expectations for six months in the future

“Consumer expectations for the next six months recovered in November, reflecting improved confidence about future business conditions, job availability and incomes,” says Peterson. Overall, the study found that respondents expected interest rates to generally go down over the next six months, but they also think stock prices will weaken.

“Meanwhile, average 12-month inflation expectations receded back to 5.7% after a one-month uptick to 5.9%,” Peterson adds. “Consumers’ views of their expected family financial situation, six months hence – a number not included in calculating the Expectations Index – recovered in November after ticking down for the past two months.”

However, plans to purchase large items – autos, homes and big-ticket appliances – trended downward on a six-month basis.

    • 17.3% of consumers expect business conditions to improve, up from 15.5% in October.

    • 19.5% expect business conditions to worsen, down from 20.9%

    • 16.1% expect more jobs to be available, up from 15.3% in October

    • 19.6% anticipate fewer jobs, down slightly from 19.7%

    • 17.2% expect their incomes to increase, up from 15.6% in October

    • 12.1% expect their incomes to decrease, down from 13.4%

 Toluna conducts the monthly Consumer Confidence Survey for The Conference Board. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was November 15.

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