-- The Associated Press/Ipsos-Public Affairs CASH Index measuring consumer attitudes declined slightly in January to 92.5, from 93.9 in December. Attitudes toward the economy appear more reserved than at the start of 2004 but continue the generally stable trend observed over the past year, especially compared to the greater volatility in 2002 and 2003.
January's decline primarily reflects consumer concerns about the current state of the economy and their own financial situation. The effect of these worries was at least partially balanced by improved expectations for future economic performance.
Confidence In Ability To Invest Weakens
At 92.3, the Investment Index -- which tracks consumers' confidence in their ability to save for the future after making purchases for the home -- is nearly 7 points lower now than in December (99.2). January's decline in the Investment Index reversed a sharp rise last month, when it rose nearly nine points from the November (90.4) measure.
People are slightly less likely now (25%) than in December (28%) to describe their personal financial situation as strong, and expectations for the next six months is unchanged from December (53% the same, from 52%). Fewer consumers now (39%) than in December (45%) say they are feeling "more confident" now than they were six months ago about their ability to invest in the future.
Current Conditions Index Drops From December Peak
The CASH subindex on Current Conditions is at 96.3 for January, down more than six points from its level in December (102.7). This reverses the sharp increase in the Current Conditions Index observed last month, when it rose more than five points from November (97.4).
Fewer now (17%) than a month ago (21%) rate their local economy as "very strong." There has also been a slight shift downward in the percentage rating their own financial situation as "very strong" (25%, from 28%).
At 109.1, the Jobs Index is down slightly from December (111.1) but is about even with its level one year ago (108.1). Perceptions of job security compared to six months ago remain fairly stable (41% more confident, 42% less; 43%-42% in December). Half (50%) continue to say it's not likely they or someone close to them will lose their jobs in the next six months. However, slightly more people now (41%) than in December (38%) report that they or someone close to them has actually lost their job.
Expectations Index Rises As Many Expect Stable Economy
The CASH subindex on Expectations has risen to 79.6, from 70.5 in December. Although expectations have improved over the past month, they stand below the level observed one year ago (111.2 in January 2004). Americans continue to expect stability over the next six months in the job market (50% say job losses are unlikely) and their own financial situation (53% expect it to be the same). However, compared to December 2004, fewer think their local economy will be weaker six months from now (11%, down 3 points), and more think it will be "about the same" (58%; up 4 points).
The Associated Press Poll is conducted by Ipsos-Public Affairs. Between January 3-5, 2005, the AP-Ipsos poll interviewed a representative sample of 1,001 adults nationwide. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 for all adults. Margin of error for subgroups may be higher.
The AP/Ipsos CASH Index is designed to provide a single, handy number that summarizes movement across an array of consumer attitudes, including current assessments and near-term expectations about the economy and personal finances, job security, confidence in the ability to save and invest for the future, and comfort level with making major purchases and other household purchases.
Ipsos CASH Index
Surveys of consumers are conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, the Washington, D.C.-based division of Ipsos, a leading global survey-based market research group. The Ipsos Consumer Attitudes and Spending by Household (CASH) Index polls are conducted the first and third week of every month, as part of Ipsos-Public Affairs weekly omnibus polling service. The Ipsos CASH Index, started in January 2002, is a bimonthly national survey of consumer attitudes on the current and future state of the local economy, personal financial situation and spending, saving and confidence to invest.
For more information about the Ipsos CASH Index or to receive this report on the first and third week of every month, please e-mail CASH@ipsos-na.com, or contact Brian Scanlon at 202.463.2146.
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