Consumer confidence in the United States held steady in March, according to a Conference Board report. The Board said that its Consumer Confidence Index rose to 26.0 in March from a revised 25.3 reading in February, which was itself a big drop from 37.4 in January.
The slight rise followed three consecutive monthly drops. But the reading came in below the 28 expected by economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters, and remains less than half of its level of 65.9 last March.
How people feel about their current economic circumstances, known as the Present Situation Index, slipped to 21.5 from 22.3 last month. Their assessment about the economy over the next six months, or the Expectations Index, rose to 28.9 from 27.3 in February.
Despite the slight improvement in that reading, many economists believe that a recovery is not near, and people continue to worry about what's ahead.
"Apprehension about the outlook for the economy, the labor market and earnings continues to weight heavily on consumers' attitudes," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center.
The percentage of consumers saying jobs are "hard to get" increased to 48.7% from 46.9% in February, while those claiming jobs are "plentiful" was unchanged at 4.6%.
Their short-term outlook was moderately less negative. The percentage of consumers expecting fewer jobs in the months ahead decreased to 42.6% from 47%, while those expecting more jobs edged up to 7.1% from 6.8%. The proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes declined to 7.5%from 7.9%.
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