Consumer confidence tumbles in April

NEW YORK – The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index – which had rebounded in March – tumbled nearly eight points in April.

Confidence is down.

The index now stands at 109.2, down from 116.9 in March. Consumers have turned gloomy about both current and future business conditions.

The expectations index fell from 83.1 to 78.2. The present situation index declined from 167.5 to 155.6.

The Consumer Confidence Survey, the country’s most comprehensive survey of consumer attitudes, is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households.

The monthly survey is conducted for The Conference Board by NFO WorldGroup, a member of The Interpublic Group of Companies.

Climate of apprehension.

“The April spurt in consumer confidence ended quickly this month,” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center.

“Deteriorating business conditions and a less favorable job market are the two critical reasons for the latest decline in confidence.

“It’s clear that consumers have begun to worry about employment trends and these concerns are gnawing away at consumer confidence.”

Business conditions.

Consumers’ assessment of current business conditions fell in April. The percent of consumers who rated current business conditions as “good” declined from 33 percent to 27.9 percent.

Consumers rating conditions as “bad” increased from 10.8 percent to 13.3 percent. Consumers claiming jobs were “hard to get” rose from 12.6 percent to 14.2 percent. Those reporting jobs were plentiful fell from 43.8 percent to 40 percent.

Consumers’ outlook for the next six months is also less optimistic than last month. Those expecting an improvement in business conditions dipped from 15.1 percent to 14.1 percent. Those anticipating conditions to worsen increased from 13.7 percent to 14.7 percent.

Employment attitudes.

The employment outlook has also turned sour. Some 23.2 percent of consumers expect fewer jobs to become available over the next six months, up from 20.4 percent. Those expecting more jobs to become available remained virtually unchanged at 12.3 percent.

Income attitudes.

Income expectations also declined. Now, 22.1 percent of all consumers anticipate a gain in their paychecks over the next six months, down from 23.4 percent last month.

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