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Uptick in consumer confidence pegged to job prospects

Published:Tuesday | October 10, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Don Anderson

Consumer confidence in the economy climbed higher in the third quarter, but businesses were not as optimistic.

The latest confidence surveys released on Tuesday by the conference board of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce showed an uptick in the Consumer Confidence Index from 149.3 in the second quarter to 151.1 points at the end of September, and a dip in the Business Confidence Index to 135.2 points from 137.1 points in the same periods.

Market researcher Don Anderson said in his presentation of the survey results that the uptick in consumer confidence was underpinned by a more positive outlook on the job market.

The confidence report cites 36 per cent of those surveyed as anticipating more jobs in the year ahead. That's up from the 32 per cent in the second quarter. Anderson says the job outlook has remained more favourable for the longest period of time since the surveys began in 2001.

Anderson says income expectations remain strong despite a drop. Respondents who anticipate income gains stood at 47 per cent for the third quarter, compared to 52 per cent for the second quarter and the same period in 2016.

Meanwhile, the firms willing to invest in new plant and equipment "remained near its all-time high since the start of 2016," Anderson said. The companies saying now is a good time to expand their capacity fell to 58 per cent from 62 per cent for the second quarter.

Anderson noted that the slippage in the confidence index for businesses over the past seven quarters, which totalled 9.4 index points, "did not indicate a loss of confidence in the Government's policies" as much as it was "an initial overestimate of the pace of the resulting economic improvement".