Lack of confidence in the outlook for the jobs market sank the consumer confidence index in November, which fell to 90.4 vs a revised 99.1 in October. The November reading is far under expectations and is the lowest since September last year. Expectations, one of two main components in this report, fell more than 10 points to 78.6 which is the lowest reading since February last year. The employment subcomponent here shows fewer consumers seeing jobs opening up six months from now and more seeing fewer jobs ahead.
The present situation component shows less weakness, down 6.5 points to 108.1 which is the lowest reading since only July. Here the employment subcomponent also shows weakness but nothing dramatic, with 26.2 percent saying jobs are hard to get which is up from October’s 24.6 percent but still respectable. But those describing jobs as currently plentiful showed more noticeable deterioration, at 19.9 percent vs October’s 22.7 percent.
A plus in the report is a jump in buying plans for autos, at 12.4 percent vs October’s 9.8 percent in a reading that hints at renewed acceleration for the motor vehicle component of the government’s retail sales report. A negative is a dip in home buying plans, to 5.6 percent from 6.2 percent. Other readings include a 1 tenth dip in inflation expectations to 5.0 percent which, for this particular reading, is actually subdued but nothing dramatic.
But the decline in job expectations is dramatic and raises the question whether global effects, which have been negative for the U.S., are beginning to weigh on the American consumer — which would not be a positive for the holiday spending outlook.