The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index improved slightly in July to a reading of 65.9, up from 62.7 in June, though the group warned that the index remains at what it terms “historically low levels.”
“Despite this month's improvement in confidence, the overall Index remains at historically low levels,” stressed Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators for the Conference Board, in a statement.
“Consumer attitudes regarding current conditions were little changed in July, but their short-term expectations, which had declined last month, bounced back,” Franco added. “However, while consumers expressed greater optimism about short-term business and employment prospects, they have grown more pessimistic about their earnings.”
However, consumer appraisal of current economic conditions eased somewhat in July, she said, with those claiming business conditions are "good" declining to 13.8% from 14.2% in June, while those saying business conditions are "bad" decreased to 34.2% from 35.9% in June.
Consumer assessment of the labor market remain mixed, though, with those stating jobs are "hard to get" declining to 40.8% from 41.2% on the one hand, yet those claiming jobs are "plentiful" dipping to 7.8% from 8.3%.
On the other hand, consumers were generally more optimistic about the short-term outlook in July. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months rose to 18.9% from 16% in June, said Franco, with those anticipating business conditions will worsen decreasing to 14.6% from 15.8% back in June.
Still, Franco doesn’t believe consumer confidence will gain more steam any time soon. “Given the current economic environment — in particular the weak labor market — consumer confidence is not likely to gain any significant momentum in the coming months,” she said.