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Jobs are ‘plentiful,’ but consumer confidence cools

August 27, 2019

Consumer confidence eased a bit this month, but still remains strong, according to The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index. And while a higher percentage of consumers this month said jobs are “plentiful,” they were less upbeat on the outlook going forward. In addition, tariffs and trade tensions pose worries.

“Expectations cooled moderately, but overall remain strong,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board.

“While other parts of the economy may show some weakening, consumers have remained confident and willing to spend,” Franco said. “However, if the recent escalation in trade and tariff tensions persists, it could potentially dampen consumers’ optimism regarding the short-term economic outlook.”

The Consumer Confidence Index edged down to a reading of 135.1 this month (1985=100) from a reading of 135.8 in July.

A higher percentage of consumers this month are saying business conditions are good — at 39.9% this month compared to 42.0% last month; on the flip side, more felt business conditions were bad — at 11.2% this month, up from 9.8% in July.

When it came to jobs right now, though, consumers were more upbeat. The percentage saying jobs are “plentiful” rose to 51.2% this month, up from 45.6% last month. And those saying jobs are “hard to get” fell to 11.8% this month from 12.5% in July.

But it was a bit of a mixed message on jobs as slightly fewer consumers expected more jobs in the months ahead. While 19.7% said this month that they expect more jobs ahead, that is down from 19.9% who said the same in July’s survey.

And the number of consumers anticipating fewer jobs ahead rose to 13.6% this month from 19.9% in July’s survey.

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