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Economic Watch: Consumer Confidence Inches Back

September 24, 2013

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Americans aren’t feeling quite as good about the state of the economy this month as they were in August, but they are still optimistic, according to one private research group.

The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index, which increased slightly in August, decreased in September. It now stands at 79.7, down from 81.8 in last month, slightly less than some economists were predicting.

“Consumer Confidence decreased in September as concerns about the short-term outlook for both jobs and earnings resurfaced, while expectations for future business conditions were little changed,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators with The Conference Board. “Consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions, however, was more positive. While overall economic conditions appear to have moderately improved, consumers are uncertain that the momentum can be sustained in the months ahead.”

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Consumers’ appraisal of present-day conditions improved moderately. Those claiming business conditions are “good” increased to 19.5% in September from 18.7% during August, while those claiming business conditions are “bad” decreased to 23.9% from 24.5%. Consumers’ assessment of the labor market was also more favorable. Those saying jobs are “plentiful” increased slightly to 11.5% from 11.3%, while those saying jobs are “hard to get” decreased to a five-year low of 32.7%.

The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months edged up to 20.9% from 20.6%, while those expecting business conditions to worsen was virtually unchanged at 11.0%.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market, however, grew more pessimistic. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead decreased to 16.9% from 17.5%, while those anticipating fewer jobs increased to 19.7% from 17.2%. The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to increase declined to 15.4% from 17.5%.

Consumer sentiment is important to trucking because consumer spending drives nearly 70% of the nation’s economy.

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