Consumer confidence dips in March

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Experts say confidence has been volatile in recent months

Consumer confidence dipped once again in March after bouncing back slightly in February. The Consumer Confidence Index fell by 7.3 points, coming in at 124.1. Experts say that consumer confidence has been turbulent to begin 2019 due to a variety of factors.

“Confidence has been somewhat volatile over the past few months, as consumers have had to weather volatility in the financial markets, a partial government shutdown, and a weak February jobs report,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, in the report.

“Despite these dynamics, consumers remain confident that the economy will continue expanding in the near term. However, the overall trend in confidence has been softening since last summer, pointing to a moderation in economic growth.”

Expectations for business and economy are down

The Conference Board’s report shows that consumers are somewhat less enthusiastic about business and labor market conditions in March than they were in February.

When it came to business, the number of consumers who said business conditions were “good” decreased from 40.6 percent to 33.4 percent. Those who said conditions were “bad” increased from 11.1 percent to 13.6 percent. That negativity spread to consumers’ future outlook; those who said they think business conditions will improve went down from 19.6 percent to 17.7 percent, while those who think conditions will worsen remained steady (9.3 percent vs. 9.2 percent).

These negative trends were consistent when it came to the labor market. Consumers who said jobs are currently “plentiful” decreased from 45.7 percent to 42.0 percent, and those who said jobs were “hard to get” increased from 11.7 percent to 13.7 percent. Those who said jobs would become more numerous in the months ahead also decreased, from 19.0 percent to 16.4 percent, while those who think jobs will become more scarce increased from 12.3 percent to 13.4 percent.

Perhaps the only bright spot in the report concerned incomes. Consumers who said they are expecting a bump to their income in the short-term increased from 20.6 percent last month to 21.0 percent in March, while those who expected a decline in income decreased from 8.3 percent to 7.6 percent.

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