Consumer confidence plunges to lowest level since 1983

If there is a recovery going on, the public is unaware of it.

Consumer confidence took a swan dive in February to its lowest point since April, according to a monthly poll released Tuesday.
The index plunged to 46 from January’s 56.5, following several months of boosts, according to the Conference Board. The economy is stable only when the reading surpasses 90.
The New York-based nonprofit said that consumers are in a generally sour mood, due partly to pessimism about job prospects and income worries. The anxiety would likely lead to curbed spending, the board said.

The present situation index, which measures consumers’ feelings about the current environment, also tumbled. The drop to 19.4 from 25.2 hit the index’s lowest level since it reached 17.5 in February 1983.

The subtopics of this poll are bad across the board. It seems the public just doesn't buy the happy talk.
One reason for that might be because mass layoffs are increasing.

Update: Robert Oak here. Below are additional details and opinion on consumer confidence coming from me.

I find consumer confidence to be such an absurd metric. Analysts and policy makers hover over this number of perception. All are salivating over any hint that Americans will go shopping and spend, spend, spend! When layoffs happen, stocks go up and when the real economy, such as manufacturing, screams bloody murder when stabbed through the heart due to bad trade deals and offshore outsourcing, Wall Street just shrugs and of course, stock prices go up. Yet lordy, lordy does this crowd pay attention when Americans might just stop shopping, ignoring the absolute structural insanity of having an economy 70% dependent upon the great American debt plastic.

Ya know, if I take enough drugs my house could be burning down around my head and I'd be happy as a claim, using my VISA to do online shopping, laptop in hand, as firemen chuck me out the door.



With that, consumer confidence plunged for February 2010:

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index®, which had increased in January, declined sharply in February. The Index now stands at 46.0 (1985=100), down from 56.5 in January. The Present Situation Index decreased to 19.4 from 25.2. The Expectations Index declined to 63.8 from 77.3 last month.

The present situation index is at it's lowest levels in 27 years.

More details from the press release:

Consumers' assessment of current-day conditions soured in February. Those claiming conditions are "good" decreased to 6.2 percent from 8.5 percent, while those claiming business conditions are "bad" increased to 46.3 percent from 44.7 percent. Consumers' assessment of the labor market was also more pessimistic. Those saying jobs are "hard to get" rose to 47.7 percent from 46.5 percent, while those saying jobs are "plentiful" decreased to 3.6 percent from 4.4 percent.

Consumers' short-term outlook, which had been improving, lost considerable ground in February. The percentage of consumers anticipating an improvement in business conditions over the next six months decreased to 16.7 percent from 20.7 percent, while those anticipating conditions will worsen increased to 15.3 percent from 12.7 percent. Regarding the outlook for the labor market, the percentage of consumers expecting fewer jobs increased to 24.6 percent from 18.9 percent. Those anticipating more jobs will become available in the months ahead declined to 13.4 percent from 15.8 percent. The proportion of consumers anticipating an increase in their incomes declined to 9.5 percent from 11.0 percent.

Consumer Confidence, even though it's a perception index is used by retailers for future sales estimates as well as potential GDP growth. Consumption is a large part of GDP, and as noted, way too large 70%, of U.S. GDP.

For comparison sake, here is the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment, released last week.

Subject Meta: 

Forum Categories: 

ugh, you beat me to the punch, so I am going to append my post

to yours. I just was about to hit "submit" when you posted.

Maybe we should do homework assignments on some of these EIs so we don't dupe each other...but at least we're covering them!

I should have known

I was actually surprised that you hadn't posted this (I checked first).
The question is why the Umass consumer sentiment index shows something entirely different?

I'd claim U. MI sentiment doesn't really

It did decline, 73.7 from 74.4.

but they have slightly different slants in readings (see differences), also the same size is 10:1, 500 vs. 5000 for consumer confidence.

then, they have slightly different time windows and Jan. CCI was higher, so I'll bet the MCSI caught an earlier time window.

I honestly think Americans, well when unemployment first occurs you're kind of in shock, then you go looking assuming you'll just get another job....then reality sinks in, then panic, then poverty...

I think we're at the reality sinks in stage of awareness.

On the dupe deal, I'm fine with just combining them when it happens...pretty astounding though to have two people, multiple times in that authoring creation window, writing similar stuff. ;)

There is a log on the site to show who is actual in authoring process but nothing shows up on the main site (does in the logs) to show what someone is working on until they actual publish it. But kind of a real pain to pull out just that log data....then I think we often focus in on different aspects, although I notice both of us manage to pull out that real shocking meat story out of these!

I sure think these things are critical reading for EPers, I find out slants unique to other blogs who even cover them (most plain do not), esp. our fav. "green shooters" ;)

So, I say, either we just plain dupe if they are different slants or edit and combine if they are similar. Why not.

It's not like we have limited space? ;)

the more we twiddle our thumbs the more costly this becomes

particularly in terms of social costs of long-term unemployment.

Just bite the bullet already, and get a direct jobs program for unemployed then for those currently working - suspend payroll tax - both employer and employee portions. - Financial Information for the Rest of Us.

I saw unions protesting the lame jobs bill

But unfortunately La Raza was involved, so you can bet $$'s that's not happening for people are completely, royally pissed off at the refusal to give Stimulus jobs only to the U.S. labor force, exclusively. Implying illegal immigrants need their own U.S. taxpayer funded stimulus jobs will kill a bill quicker than Shelby can put a hold on a nomination.

I wish to God these various special interest groups could get out of the picture, talk about screwing up a strong need for the American workforce. Or, conversely I wish the U.S. middle class as an entire entity has it's own lobbyist organization. Lord knows we need one.

I hate to use the analogy but:

It's like the Colin Powell Doctrine - if you go to war use overwhelming force. Like Bush mishandled the Iraq War, Obama is mishandling this jobs crisis. Dems are cheering over CBOs report released today that says stimulus created 2 million jobs.

2 million jobs - do you know how deep the jobs hole is? We need about 100,000 jobs per month just to keep up with population growth. Can you imagine if the stimulus focused on Full Employment? Oh, BTW, tax cuts are not going to get you to Full Employment. - Financial Information for the Rest of Us.

Consumer sentiment

Well, add to this news this report Underwater Mortgages Hit 11.3 Million:

The recovering is swimming along.... but does anybody see land in sight?