Consumer Confidence Index Improves in May

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had decreased in April, bounced back in May. The Index now stands at 108.0 (1985=100), up from 106.3 in April. The Present Situation Index increased to 136.1 from 133.5 in April. The Expectations Index edged up to 89.2 from 88.2.

“The bounce-back in Confidence was due primarily to a more upbeat assessment of present-day business conditions. Consumers’ view of the job market, both present and six months from now, was little changed and did not provide a boost in confidence,” said Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. “The short-term outlook remains cautious, and rising gasoline prices are having a negative impact on consumers’ inflation expectations. All in all, confidence levels continue to suggest growth, albeit at a slow pace.”

Consumers’ appraisal of current-day conditions was more upbeat in May. Those claiming conditions are “good” rose to 29.4 percent from 27.5 percent. Those saying conditions are “bad” was barely unchanged at 14.5 percent. Consumers were also more neutral about the labor market. The percentage of consumers saying jobs are “hard to get” dipped to 19.9 percent from 20.3 percent. Those claiming jobs are “plentiful”, however, remained at 29 percent in May.

Consumers’ outlook for the next six months remains cautious. Those anticipating business conditions to improve increased to 15.1 percent from 13.8 percent. Consumers expecting business conditions to worsen, however, edged up to 10.1 percent from 9.7 percent.

The percent of consumers expecting more jobs in the months ahead was relatively flat at 13.3 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs, 15.7 percent, was also unchanged. The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to increase in the months ahead declined to 17.7 percent from 18.4 percent in April.

The survey is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households. The monthly survey is conducted for The Conference Board by TNS. The cutoff date for May’s preliminary results was May 21.