The RBC Consumer Outlook Index dipped to 44.9 in, slightly down from the post-recession high of 45.2 that it reached in December. The index is based on a survey of 1,007 adults conducted by Ipsos.
The RBC Consumer Outlook Jobs sub-index rose to 52.1, up from 51.8 and considerably higher from 42.0 a year ago.
In addition, pessimism about their local economies fell to 47%, down from 51%.
Tom Porcelli, chief U.S. economist at RBC Capital, said American’s outlook has improved, even though they remain wary.
“After rising for three straight months, confidence has taken a little breather here in January,” Porcelli said. “But even with the modest pullback, we are still seeing a better backdrop of consumer confidence as we start the New Year. The jobs measure bucked the broader trend and posted a surprising rise—even in the face of weaker overall confidence and an unemployment rate that rose in December.”
On the negative front, the Current Conditions sub-index fell to 35.0, down from 35.6 in December, the Expectations sub-index decreased to 55.3 from 56.1, and the Investment sub-index slipped to 38.9 from 40.0.
Further, 64% said the country is on the wrong track, up from 61% the month before. This is the ninth consecutive month that this response has been above 60%.
And people are divided on whether the economy will improve, with 24% expecting it to get worse in the next year, 28% saying it will get better, and 48% thinking it will simply continue to plod along.
“The consumer is right to be cautious,” Porcelli said. “The recently enacted tax legislation will certainly provide a boost to spending over the course of the year, but we remain in an environment where job growth is modest, home prices are stagnant and access to credit remains limited. The path back to more normal levels of confidence will not be a straight line.”