Consumer confidence slips in July amid strengthening economy

Consumer confidence fell slightly in July as households say they want more evidence the economy is finally entering a phase of steady improvement.

The University of Michigan on Friday said that its consumer sentiment index edged down to 81.8 in July, from 82.3 in June, even as the economy shows signs of strengthening.

Meanwhile, the current conditions index ticked up to 97.4, from June’s 96.6, while the expectations gauge slid to 71.8, from 73.5, in June and 76.5 last July.

"Despite the recent gains in jobs and wages, consumers have yet to interpret these gains as an indication that more robust growth in jobs and wages will be forthcoming in the future," survey director Richard Curtin said.

“The slow and uneven pace of the recovery in jobs and incomes during the past five years has made consumers unwilling to put much stock in favorable economic forecasts until repeatedly confirmed by positive realizations,” he said.

Curtin said the demand for more proof of economic recovery is particularly strong among moderate-income families and middle-aged households.

The Friday report conflicts with a separate survey released by the Conference Board on Tuesday that showed confidence improving for the third straight month in July, rising to 90.9, the best reading since October 2007.

The Michigan survey also reported that 1 in 3 households mentioned that their income had recently increased, the most positive assessment of current income trends since May 2007.

Complaints about higher prices, however, also increased.