Consumer Confidence Index holds steady in May

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, which had improved last month, was virtually unchanged in May. The Index now stands at 93.2 (1985=100), up slightly from 93.0 in April. The Present Situation Index is now 90.3, compared to 90.4 in April. The Expectations Index edged up to 95.2 from 94.8.

“The recent upturn in the Present Situation Index is being spurred by strong employment gains in March and April,” says Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center. “This has made consumers more positive about short-term prospects in the months ahead. The pickup in the job market is offsetting the impact of rising gas prices and escalating tensions overseas.”

Consumers continue to rate current conditions as favorable. Those saying business conditions have improved rose to 22.3% in May, up from 21.7%. Those claiming conditions have worsened remained unchanged at 21.7%. Consumers claiming jobs are “hard to get” rose to 30.6% from 28%. Those saying jobs are “plentiful,” however, also increased to 16.6% from 15.6%.

Consumers’ outlook for the next six months remains positive. Those expecting business conditions to improve in the next six months rose to 22.9% from 20.8%. Those expecting conditions to worsen, however, edged up to 10.1% from 9.3%.

The employment outlook continues to show signs of improvement. Those anticipating more jobs to become available in the next six months increased to 19.2% from 18.3%. Those expecting fewer jobs dipped to 17.2% from 17.7%. The proportion of consumers anticipating an increase in their incomes declined again and is now at 16.8%, down from 17.4% last month.

The Consumer Confidence Survey is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households. The monthly survey is conducted for The Conference Board by TNS NFO. The cutoff date for May’s preliminary results was May 18.