More Americans think nation is on the wrong track compared
to a year ago: RBC Consumer Outlook Index
However, attitudes about the economy, home prices, stock
market and investments ticking upwards
Jobs are overwhelmingly top concern with midterm elections
less than a month away
NEW YORK, October 7, 2010 Although Americans'
attitudes about the economy, home prices, the stock market
and the value of their investments have improved, many are
less optimistic about the future direction of the nation today
compared to this time in 2009, according to the monthly RBC
Consumer Outlook Index. Fewer consumers (37 per cent) think
the U.S. is currently on the right track compared to those
polled a year ago (41 per cent).
This month's index reflects the analysis of data from a survey
of 1,007 U.S. adults taken September 30-October 3, 2010.
"True confidence continues to elude consumers,"
said Marc Harris, co-head of Global Research at RBC Capital
Markets. "While the October numbers saw a steady increase
from the prior month's reading in several areas, consumers'
attitudes have seen no consistent positive momentum since
the beginning of 2010 as the economy continues to struggle.
Overall, consumer confidence is barely treading water."
The RBC Consumer Outlook Index also shows that jobs are still
the number one concern on Americans' minds. With the upcoming
midterm elections less than four weeks away, one thing is
clear: Job creation and protection is the most important issue
for Americans (56 per cent). According to the RBC survey,
16 per cent said keeping taxes low is the most important issue
for Americans and, interestingly, only three per cent said
fixing the housing market is most important.
Additional highlights from the October 2010 RBC Consumer
- Jobs sub-index flatlines. In advance of the upcoming
payroll reports, stagnation in the RBC Jobs sub-index following
the previous month's sharp decline does not bode well. The
sub-index was flat for the month of October at 69.9, compared
to 69.8 for September.
- Consumers slightly more confident about their own financial
health and economy. Consumers are more optimistic this
month than last, with only 38 per cent of those polled saying
the national economy will worsen over the next three months,
down from 45 per cent of those polled last month. Fewer
people polled this month thought the economy and their own
financial situation would worsen over the next year. Long
term expectations continue to strengthen, with 25 per cent
of those polled saying the economy could get worse this
year, down from 28 per cent last month.
- Americans more optimistic about home values in their
neighborhoods. Thirty-one per cent of those polled this
month thought that the prices of homes in their neighborhood
would increase in the year ahead, compared to 25 per cent
last month. Only 27 per cent of those polled this month
said home prices in their neighborhood would decline, a
significant decrease from the 40 per cent who expected a
decline a month ago.
- Slight increase in confidence does not translate into
increased spending. Even though this month's survey
suggests some shifts in attitudes, it does not translate
into changes in consumer spending behavior. In fact, compared
to last month, a greater number of consumers said they would
spend less. The Current Conditions sub-index -- a good proxy
for how consumers feel right now about spending -- was virtually
flat month over month, which could be perceived as a concerning
signal for the holiday selling season. The reading was 57.4
for October versus 57.0 for September.
- Americans slightly more optimistic about investing
in stock market, less nervous about their investments.
Thirty-four per cent of the stock-owning population polled
said the next 30 days would be a good time to invest in
the markets, compared to 26 per cent of those who said this
last month. However, the low reading means that despite
the accommodative Fed commentary and a massive equity market
rally in September, well over 50 per cent of Americans polled
say they are still not sure if now is a good time to invest
- Consumers less panicked about the quality of their
investment portfolios. Just 52 per cent this month classified
the value of their investments as "bad" compared
to 60 per cent last month.
About The RBC Consumer Outlook Index
The RBC U.S. Consumer Outlook Index provides the most
up-to-date and comprehensive outlook of U.S. consumers based
on data collected from interviews with a nationally representative
sample of more than 1,000 U.S. adults conducted over a multi-day
polling period each month by Ipsos, the world's second-largest
market and opinion research firm. The results in this news
release reflect some of the findings of the Ipsos poll of
1,007 U.S. adults conducted September 30 - October 3, 2010.
The RBC Consumer Outlook Index is released within 36 hours
after the U.S. online panel members are interviewed. Weighting
is employed to balance demographics and ensure that the survey
sample's composition reflects that of the U.S. adult population
according to Census data and to provide results intended to
approximate the sample universe.
Kait Conetta, RBC, email@example.com,
Greg Hamrock, Hubbell Group,