Consumer Confidence Down 4th Time in 5 Months


Consumer confidence unexpectedly dropped in December, but from elevated levels.

Bloomberg reports U.S. Consumer Confidence Unexpectedly Drops on Muted Outlook

U.S. consumer confidence unexpectedly dropped for the fourth time in five months in December, as expectations for income and job-market conditions edged down.

The decline signals Americans remain cautious in a volatile global environment. At the same time, the index remains at elevated levels, propelled by a solid labor market, rising wages for the average worker, and a cooling trade war with China. Americans are less optimistic about the future, with drops in expectations for employment and income: the share of those seeing more jobs in the next six months dropped to the lowest level since January and those seeing a decrease in income rose to the highest level since May. For current economic conditions, the share of respondents who said jobs were hard to get increased to the highest level since June, while those saying jobs were plentiful also increased.

Conference Board View

“While consumers’ assessment of current conditions improved, their expectations declined, driven primarily by a softening in their short-term outlook regarding jobs and financial prospects,” Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said in a statement. “While the economy hasn’t shown signs of further weakening, there is little to suggest that growth, and in particular consumer spending, will gain momentum in early 2020.”

Noise or Something Else?

I don't normally follow the report as it primarily tracks the stock market. Also the report is proprietary and whatever it costs is too much for me.

What I find interesting is that confidence has turned down but the market hasn't.

Also, "jobs harder to get" and "jobs plentiful" are both up. What's up with that? Noise?

People see a decrease in income. Income ought to be rising given the GM strike is over. Boeing perhaps?

My general feeling is the report is mostly coincident noise that tracks the stock market, but with that view, sentiment should not be down for the 4th time in 5 months.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (7)
No. 1-6

What do we know about the process of measuring this? Is it a survey? How many folks surveyed? What are the questions? How does it account for the broad range of economic circumstances of the population? Is it scientifically designed? Or is it one more measurement that seeks only to line the pockets of its publisher? Just wondering.


Federal govt is now forced to hide more and more of the deficit off balance sheet precisely for that reason,the biggest deficit dept cover up in history is in progress right now through massive (blatantly)fraudulent accounting hiding trillions in red ink off the books to buy time till the election.....if there is one or even martial law .


Consumer confidence will continue to decline unless/until their credit card limits are extended. It will definitely increase if the Dems succeed in unleashing MMT ... until a loaf of bread costs $30.


I will take a stab at “jobs are harder to get” and “jobs are plentiful”.

There are still a lot of jobs sitting empty because of a lack of skilled workers to fill them; therefore jobs are plentiful.

There are still workers who are unemployed or underemployed because they lack the necessary skills to fill the available jobs; therefore jobs are harder to get.

The US economy would be slightly better if the low skilled workers could be trained to fill some of those empty positions.

I see the exact same issue in my country as well. Which is why my charitable work is all about giving people the necessary skills.


solid labour market, almost 0% interest rates, some stock indexes up 500 %.....What more is needed to boost consumer confidence? I know : helicopter money, ....or more of it ! it is only a matter of time ...


The CCI Survey Each month the Conference Board surveys 5,000 U.S. households. The survey consists of five questions about the following:

Present Situation Index

Respondents’ appraisal of current business conditions Respondents’ appraisal of current employment conditions

Expectations Index

Respondents’ expectations regarding business conditions six months hence Respondents’ expectations regarding employment conditions six months hence Respondents’ expectations regarding their total family income six months hence

I suspect most people dont follow the markets that closely on a day to day basis and rely on their Pension & other Fund Managers to look after their investments. I think there is a general view that any setback in "the markets" will be temporary as "they always go up again". Some sort of news event or trigger would bring the risks to the foreground or perhaps the need to sell to raise some cash sometime as personal economic circumstances deteriorate?

Global Economics