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Economy in Brief

U.S. Consumer Confidence Deteriorates Further in September
by Tom Moeller  September 28, 2021

• Delta variant continues to worry.

• Appraisal of current conditions & expectations plunge again.

• Job market indexes weaken.

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index declined 5.1% (+7.9% y/y) this month to 109.3 from 115.2 in August, revised from 113.8. Confidence index has fallen 15.2% during the last three months. The confidence index remained at the lowest level since February. A September reading of 115.0 had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

The Present Situation index declined 3.7% this month (+45.0% y/y) to 143.4 following a 5.3% August decline to 148.9, revised from 147.3. The Consumer Expectations reading weakened 6.7% (-15.8% y/y) in September to 86.6 after a 10.6% decline in August to 92.8, revised from 91.4.

The jobs gap, representing the difference between respondents indicating that jobs are plentiful and those saying jobs are hard to get, fell to 42.5% this month from 44.4% in August, revised from 42.8%. This series has a 73% correlation with the unemployment rate over the last ten years. The jobs plentiful measure edged up to a record high of 55.9% this month. The jobs hard-to-get measure rose for the third straight month to 13.4%, the highest level since April.

Current business conditions were perceived as good by a greatly lessened 19.3% of respondents in August, down from a high of 25.2% in June. Expectations that business conditions would improve in six months weakened to 21.5% from 39.1% six months ago. More jobs were expected in six months by a 21.5% of respondents, down from 35.4% in March. The percentage expecting income to increase backpedaled to 17.3%, the least in four months.

The expected inflation rate in twelve months eased to 6.5% from 6.7% in August, but remained up from a 4.4% low in January of last year. The share of respondents planning to buy a new home within six months held at 0.5% and remained down from 2.0% in June 2020. Those planning to buy a major appliance fell to 47.0%, down from 53.9% two months ago.

Confidence of individuals under 35 years fell sharply to the lowest level since April. Confidence amongst those between 35 and 54 also fell sharply to the lowest level since January. Confidence amongst individuals 55 and over was fairly steady at the lowest level in six months.

The Consumer Confidence data are available in Haver's CBDB database. The total indexes, which are indexed to 1985=100, appear in USECON, and market expectations are in AS1REPNA.

Coronavirus and CARES Act from Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell can be found here.

Conference Board (SA, 1985=100) Sep Aug Jul Sep '20 2020 2019 2018
Consumer Confidence Index 109.3 115.2 125.1 101.3 101.0 128.3 130.1
   Present Situation 143.4 148.9 157.2 98.9 109.8 169.8 164.8
   Expectations 86.6 92.8 103.8 102.9 95.2 100.6 107.0
Jobs Gap (%) 42.5 44.4 44.1 3.3 6.8 33.2 27.6
   Jobs Plentiful (%) 55.9 55.6 55.2 23.6 27.8 45.8 42.0
   Jobs Hard to Get (%) 13.4 11.2 11.1 20.3 21.0 12.6 14.4
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