Conference Board: Consumers Remain Pessimistic About the Economy

By September 27, 2011Economy

Consumers remain extremely pessimistic about the current economic environment, with the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index virtually unchanged in September at 45.4. While a marginal improvement from the 45.2 reading of August, it is clear that consumers remain very anxious about employment and income. The index of the current economic situation fell from 34.3 in August to 32.5 in September.

The constant drumbeat of bad economic news and the stock market volatility of the past few weeks have had an impact on Americans’ psyche. As to future expectations, the index rose from 52.4 to 54.0, but this was still well below the 97.5 index value observed in February.

For manufacturers, rising consumer uncertainty presents a major challenge. When consumers express anxieties about future employment and wages, they might be more likely to curtail their spending. With consumption representing around 70 percent of GDP, this provides a damper for economic growth. Just two weeks ago, for instance, the Census Bureau reported flat retail sales for the month of August. For the manufacturing industry to rebound from the current headwinds, individual and business confidence will need to pick up. 

Chad Moutray is chief economist, National Association of Manufacturers.

Chad Moutray

Chad Moutray

Chad Moutray is chief economist for the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), where he serves as the NAM’s economic forecaster and spokesperson on economic issues. He frequently comments on current economic conditions for manufacturers through professional presentations and media interviews. He has appeared on Bloomberg, CNBC, C-SPAN, Fox Business and Fox News, among other news outlets.
Chad Moutray

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Ray Franklin says:

    One big reason consumers remain pessimistic about the economy is that politicians have no viable ways to get the unemployed back to work. Furthermore, no one is seriously discussing the core problem – too many people chasing too few jobs in an environment of rising productivity. This problem exists around the world and it is hitting all age groups. A college degree is no longer a guarantee of a lifelong, high-paying career. In short, the world’s population has outstripped the capacity of our economic systems to keep people gainfully employed.

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