Confidence Flat and Low

Consumer sentiment remained flat and low this week despite some signs of economic improvement, underscoring the lasting negative impact of the difficult labor market.

The ABC News Consumer Comfort Index stands at -49 on its scale of +100 to -100, 2 points below the 2010 average and 36 points below its long-term average, -13, in 24 years of weekly polls. Last year, at an average -48, was its worst on record.

The CCI is based on public views of the national economy, buying climate and personal finances. Ninety-one percent of Americans rate the economy negatively, 28 points more than average and locked in a 4-point range between 89 and 93 percent for the past year. Seventy-six percent call it a bad time to spend money, 13 points more than average and more than two-thirds for 128 straight weeks. Fifty-six percent rate their own finances negatively, 12 points more than average and half or more for 98 of the last 104 weeks, a record as a percentage.

Federal Reserve policymakers meet today and tomorrow to assess the economy and consider their target interest rate. That’s expected to remain unchanged; the challenge is how the Fed will characterize the economy, given mixed conditions including the still-troubled state of consumer attitudes.

Summary by Amanda Rohaly. Click here for tables with this week’s CCI data.

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