U.S. consumer confidence declined in January

By Beixi(Bessie) Xu

Consumer confidence fell slightly in January as worries about the future outweighed continued optimism about the current economy.

The Conference Board said its Consumer Confidence Index now stands at 111.8, retreated from a revised 113.3 in December which was the highest since August 2001. This decline didn’t meet economists’ expectation, which was 112.8, according to a survey by Bloomberg.

“The decline in confidence was driven solely by a less optimistic outlook for business conditions, jobs, and especially consumers’ income prospects,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, in a statement.

The Conference Board said the Present Situation Index rose to 129.7 from 123.5 as the percentage of consumers who thought jobs are “plentiful” rose to 27.4 percent from 26 percent, and those claiming jobs are “hard to get” decreased to 21.5 percent from 22.7 percent.

Also, the Expectations Index fell to 99.8 from 106.4 last month with the percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months decreased to 23.1 percent from 24.7 percent and the percentage of consumers expecting their incomes to increase declined to 18 percent from 21.5 percent, according to the Conference Board.


“I think right now there are some concerns in terms of what’s going to happen from a policy standpoint,” said Andrew Opdyke, economist at First Trust Portfolios in a phone interview, referring to the new Trump administration. “When we look at our current situation, people think things are relatively good, and the question is what the policies going to look like years from now.”

Some people expect the policy changes will be positive.

“I think the economy is going strong, jobs are up and people are buying, and getting the purchasing power they need,” said Peter Dedes, chief financial officer at Hireology, a talent technology company.

Others are not optimistic after President Donald Trump’s first week in office and a flurry of executive orders on immigration, trade and other policies.

“I am so unsure of what our new president is going to do,” said Mike Oberholtzer, citizen in River Forest. “I have no confidence at all about what business conditions might be like. They may be fine, they may get better, or he may do something so terrible that I don’t know what will happen. I will more conscious about my spending.”

Photo at top: Customers shop at Chinatown Market in Chicago. (Beixi Xu/MEDILL)