Consumer Confidence Index hits 2-year low; consumers struggle with surging prices

WASHINGTON – For the third straight month, the Consumer Confidence Index took a hit – and a large one at that. For April, the Index – as reported by The Conference Board – fell to 97.0 from the 103.1 reported in March, signaling the lowest level since July 2022.

The Present Situation Index, based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions, also declined in April, coming in at 142.9 from the downwardly revised 146.8 in March. The Expectations Index saw a significant decrease, too, falling to 66.4 from an upwardly revised 74.0 in March.

“Confidence retreated further in April, reaching its lowest level since July 2022 as consumers became less positive about the current labor market situation and more concerned about future business conditions, job availability and income,” said Dana M. Peterson, chief economist at The Conference Board. “Despite April’s dip in the overall index, since mid-2022 optimism about the present situation continues to more than offset concerns about the future.”

Consumers’ assessments of the present situation remain at fairly optimistic levels despite the decline in April. Business conditions are being seen in a positive light, but consumers are seeing a weakened employment situation, with more consumers reporting that jobs are hard to get.

Looking ahead to the next six months, expectations also hit the lowest reported levels since July 2022, driven by a pessimistic outlook on future business conditions, labor market expectations and income expectations.

“Confidence declined among consumers of all age groups and almost all income groups except for the $25,000 to $49,999 bracket,” Peterson said. “In April, households with incomes below $25,000 and those with incomes above $75,000 reported the largest deteriorations in confidence.”

Peterson added: “According to April’s write-in responses, elevated price levels, especially for food and gas, dominated consumer’s concerns, with politics and global conflicts as distant runners-up.”

Here is a more detailed look at the reports for April:

Present situation

Consumers’ assessment of current business conditions was moderately more positive in April.

  • 20.6% of consumers said business conditions were “good,” up from 19.2% in March.
  • 17.4% said business conditions were “bad,” down from 17.6%.

Consumers’ appraisal of the labor market deteriorated in April.

  • 40.2% of consumers said jobs were “plentiful,” down from 41.7% in March.
  • 14.9% of consumers said jobs were “hard to get,” up from 12.2%.

Expectations 6 months hence      

Consumers were more pessimistic about the short-term business conditions outlook in April.

  • 12.8% of consumers expect business conditions to improve, down from 14.3%t in March.
  • 19.9% expect business conditions to worsen, up from 18.5%.

Consumers’ assessment of the short-term labor market outlook worsened in April.

  • 11.7% of consumers expect more jobs to be available, down from 14.3% in March.
  • 19.6% anticipate fewer jobs, up from 18.8% last month.

Consumers’ assessment of their short-term income prospects also deteriorated in April.

  • 15.4% of consumers expect their incomes to increase, down from 17.3% in March.
  • 13.9% expect their incomes to decrease, up from 13.5%t.

See also:

  • Survey says! These 13 home furnishings brands garner the most consumer trust
  • Latest consumer confidence numbers end 3-month gain streak

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