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U.S. Confidence Fell in Sept. as Delta Variant Spread

National consumer confidence fell for the third month in a row. Economist Lynn Franco says the delta variant spread dampened optimism, but inflation fears eased a bit.

BOSTON – The September Consumer Confidence Index dropped, marking the third straight month for declines. It now stands at 109.3, down from 115.2 in August.

The Present Situation Index – U.S. consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions – fell to 143.4 from last month’s 148.9. The Expectations Index – based on consumers’ short-term future outlook for income, business and labor market conditions – fell to 86.6 from 92.8.

“Consumer confidence dropped in September as the spread of the delta variant continued to dampen optimism,” says Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “Concerns about the state of the economy and short-term growth prospects deepened, while spending intentions for homes, autos and major appliances all retreated again.”

However, worries about inflation ebbed a bit but “remain elevated,” according to Franco.

“Consumer confidence is still high by historical levels – enough to support further growth in the near-term – but the Index has now fallen 19.6 points from the recent peak of 128.9 reached in June,” she adds. “These back-to-back declines suggest consumers have grown more cautious and are likely to curtail spending going forward.”

Present situation

Consumers’ appraisal of current business conditions

  • 19.3% said business conditions are “good,” down from 20.2%.
  • 25.4% said business conditions are “bad,” up from 24.1%.

Consumers’ assessment of the labor market

  • 55.9% of consumers said jobs are “plentiful,” up from 55.6%.
  • Conversely, 13.4% of consumers said jobs are “hard to get,” up from 11.2%.

Expectations six months in the future

Short-term business conditions

  • 21.5% of consumers expect business conditions to improve, down from 23.4%.
  • 17.6% expect business conditions to worsen, up from 17.4%.

Short-term labor market outlook

  • 21.5% expect more jobs to be available in the months ahead, down from 23.1%.
  • 20.3% anticipate fewer jobs, up from 18.0%.

Short-term financial prospects

  • 17.3% of consumers expect their incomes to increase, down from 18.2%.
  • 11.5% expect their incomes will decrease, up from 9.9%.

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