The University of Michigan and Thomson Reuters noted that consumer confidence ebbed slightly to begin the new year. The Consumer Sentiment Survey’s overall index dropped from 82.5 in December to 80.4 in January, according to preliminary data. (Note that final data for the month will be released on January 31.) The expectation had been for consumer attitudes to extend the gains made in December, with Americans recovering from the more-pessimistic tone observed surrounding the partial government shutdown.
This suggests that the public remains somewhat anxious about economic conditions, with easing noted in the measures both for the current environment (down from 98.6 to 95.2) and for future expectations (down from 72.1 to 70.9). Nonetheless, the data also indicate that consumers were more upbeat to begin 2014 than they were at the start of 2013. In January 2013, consumer sentiment was just 73.8, with both individuals and businesses continuing to be downbeat in the aftermath of the fiscal cliff debate.
Chad Moutray is the chief economist, National Association of Manufacturers.