Consumer confidence remains weak

March 31, 2004

Labor market 'dampens present-day spirits'


Inman News

The Conference Board's consumer confidence index, which had declined sharply last month, was flat in March. The index now stands at 88.3 (1985=100), virtually unchanged from 88.5 in February.

The present situation index rose to 84.1 from 83.3. The expectations index dipped slightly to 91 from 91.9.

"While consumers claimed business conditions were more favorable in March than last month, they also claimed jobs were less readily available," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board's Consumer Research Center. "The labor market not only continues to dampen consumers' present-day spirits, but it is also making them less optimistic about the short-term outlook."

Consumers' optimism about future conditions continues to wane. Those expecting business conditions to improve in the next six months dipped to 19.3 percent from 19.5 percent. Consumers expecting conditions to worsen was unchanged at 9.6 percent.

Consumers' assessment of current conditions is more favorable today than last month. Those claiming business conditions improved increased to 20.7 percent from 19.3 percent. Those claiming conditions have worsened was almost unchanged at 23.3 percent.

Consumers claiming jobs are "hard to get" increased to 30 percent from 28.9 percent. But those saying jobs are "plentiful" rose slightly to 14.7 percent from 14.5 percent.

The six-month job outlook is mixed. Those anticipating more jobs to become available fell to 15.7 percent, down from 16.4 percent. Those expecting fewer jobs, however, declined to 17.3 percent from 18.8 percent. The proportion of consumers anticipating a decrease in their incomes rose to 10.1 percent today from 8.4 percent.

The consumer confidence survey, which is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households, is conducted for The Conference Board by NFO WorldGroup.

Copyright: Inman News Features


Contact ALTA at 202-296-3671 or communications@alta.org.

SoftPro, based in Raleigh, NC, offers a mature suite of products, designed specifically for the closing and title industry. Our mission is to serve our client base, with best-in-class products and services. Our products are modular so we don't force you to buy anything you don't need. You can always add on as your business grows. Unlike other software companies, we view the sale as the beginning of the relationship rather than the end. North American Title Insurance Company (NATIC) is a seasoned title insurance underwriter, helping title agents to achieve their individual business goals for more than 50 years. Today, the company conducts real estate settlement services in 39 states and the District of Columbia through a network of experienced, independent agents.