Consumer Confidence Improves in September

Written by Sandy Williams

The Consumer Confidence Index improved for the second month in September, up from 101.3 in August to 103.0. The reading was the highest since January and exceeded Bloomberg’s median forecast of 96.8 and Reuter’s forecast of 96.1.

Consumers in the September survey were more positive about current condition with 28 percent calling the present situation “good,” up from 23.7 percent in August. Those who considered business conditions “bad” dropped to 16.7 percent from 17.8.

The short-term outlook was mostly flat, with 17.9 percent of consumers expecting improved business conditions, up from 16.6 in August. Those who expect worse conditions also increased, from 9.1 percent to 10.3 percent.

SMU looks at the survey from a 3 month moving average perspective. The composite value combines the view of the present situation and expectations and its three month moving average (3MMA) rose by 1.0 points in September. The 3MMA of the view of the present situation improved by 3.8 points and expectations increased by 2.5 points.

It is the third month of improvement for the composite on a 3MMA and possibly the beginning of an upward trend.

The official news release from the Conference Board follows:

“The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index®, which had increased in August, improved moderately in September. The Index now stands at 103.0 (1985=100), up from 101.3 in August. The Present Situation Index increased from 115.8 last month to 121.1 in September, while the Expectations Index edged down to 91.0 from 91.6 in August.

“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 September 17.

“Consumer confidence increased moderately in September, following August’s sharp rebound,” said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “Consumers’ more positive assessment of current conditions fueled this month’s increase, and drove the Present Situation Index to an 8-year high (Sept. 2007, Index=121.2). Consumers’ expectations for the short-term outlook, however, remained relatively flat, although there was a modest improvement in income expectations. Thus, while consumers view current economic conditions more favorably, they do not foresee growth accelerating in the months ahead.”

“Consumers’ appraisal of current conditions was more positive in September. Those saying business conditions are “good” increased from 23.7 percent to 28.0 percent, while those claiming business conditions are “bad” declined modestly from 17.8 percent to 16.7 percent. Consumers were somewhat mixed about the job market. Those stating jobs are “plentiful” increased from 22.1 percent to 25.1 percent, however those claiming jobs are “hard to get” also rose from 21.7 percent to 24.3 percent.
Consumers’ optimism about the short-term outlook was little changed in September. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased from 16.6 percent to 17.9 percent, but those expecting business conditions to worsen also increased, from 9.1 percent to 10.3 percent.

“Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was mixed. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead was virtually unchanged at 15.0 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs increased from 14.5 percent to 15.8 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to increase improved from 16.2 percent to 19.1 percent, while the proportion expecting a decline inched up from 9.8 percent to 10.1 percent.”

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