Americans in February became less optimistic about the overall economy, especially the short-term prospects for the job market, sending a widely followed barometer of consumer sentiment – including the RV industry – below analysts’ estimates.
The Associated Press reported that the Conference Board, a New York-based private research group, said Tuesday (Feb. 28) its consumer confidence index fell to 101.7, from a revised 106.8 in January, the highest level since May 2002.
The drop in February stalled a rebound in the index that began in November following the Gulf Coast hurricanes. Analysts had expected a reading of 104.0 in February.
In a statement, Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, said “consumers are growing increasingly concerned about the short-term health of the economy and, in turn, about job prospects.”
But consumers’ assessment of present conditions is holding steady at a four-and-a-half-year high, suggesting that the start of 2006 will be better than the end of 2005, Franco said.
The report came as the Commerce Department reported that the economy grew at an annual rate of 1.6% in the final quarter of 2005, a lackluster performance but still slightly better than originally thought.