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U.S. Consumers Less Happy but More Optimistic

The Nov. Consumer Confidence Index fell from 111.6 to 109.5. “Expectations about short-term growth prospects ticked up, but job and income prospects ticked down.”

BOSTON – The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index decreased in November, following an increase in October. The Index now stands at 109.5, down from 111.6 in October.

The Present Situation Index – consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions – fell to 142.5 from 145.5 last month. The Expectations Index – consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business and labor market conditions – fell to 87.6 from 89.0.

“Consumer confidence moderated in November, following a gain in October,” says Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “Expectations about short-term growth prospects ticked up, but job and income prospects ticked down. Concerns about rising prices – and, to a lesser degree, the delta variant – were the primary drivers of the slight decline in confidence.”

Franco says the “proportion of consumers planning to purchase homes, automobiles and major appliances over the next six months decreased” but the Conference Board also says it expects a good holiday season for retailers – and confidence levels suggest the economic expansion will continue into early 2022.

“However, both confidence and spending will likely face headwinds from rising prices and a potential resurgence of COVID-19 in the coming months,” Franco adds.

Present situation: Consumers’ appraisal of current business conditions was less favorable in November.

  • 17.0% of consumers said business conditions are “good,” down from 18.3%
  • 29.0% of consumers said business conditions are “bad,” up from 25.7%

Consumers’ assessment of the labor market was moderately more favorable.

  • 58.0% of consumers said jobs are “plentiful,” up from 54.8%
  • 11.1% of consumers said jobs are “hard to get,” virtually unchanged from 11.0%

Expectations six months into the future: Consumers’ optimism about short-term business conditions increased in November.

  • 24.1% expect business conditions to improve, up from 22.7%
  • 20.7% expect business conditions to worsen, down from 21.9%

Consumers were less optimistic about the short-term labor market outlook.

  • 22.1% expect more jobs in the months ahead, down from 24.4%
  • 18.9% anticipate fewer jobs, up slightly from 18.7%

Consumers were less positive about personal short-term financial prospects.

  • 17.9% of consumers expect their incomes to increase, down from 18.4%
  • 12.0% expect their incomes will decrease, up from 11.2%

 The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey is conducted for The Conference Board by Toluna, a technology company. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was Nov. 19 – before recent news of the omicron COVID-19 variant.

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