For the month of March, consumer confidence slipped a bit, on the heels of what The Wall Street Journal reported were lingering concerns tied to rising gasoline prices.
And, of course, doubts about the economy at large have played a role as well. The gauge offered up by the University of Michigan, which measures consumer sentiment on what is computed as a preliminary basis, was released on Friday (March 18) and showed a 90 reading, which is a decline from the finalized reading of 91.7 that was calculated for February.
That fell a bit below what economists polled by WSJ expected — projections stood at 92.2. And it is a far cry from the 98.1 reading that was seen as recently as Jan. 2015, with that being the high water mark for consumer sentiment in the wake of the Great Recession. But the March reading is also nicely above the nadir of 87.2 seen this past September. Such a leap in the reading, WSJ noted, marks at least some growth in the economy here in the United States, though the pace may be somewhat anemic.
In a quote that accompanied the release of the data, the chief economist associated with the survey, Richard Curtin, stated: “While consumers do not anticipate a recession, they no longer expect the economy to outperform the 2.4 percent rate of economic growth recorded in the past two years.”
The gauge itself is widely used as a proxy for consumers’ thoughts about the current state of economic conditions and also the expectations they hold for the future. In the case of the latter sentiment, the expectations for the future fell to 80, down from a reading of 81.9 in the month of February.