Confidence index: Consumers stirred, not shaken

Lynn Franco
Lynn Franco

A monthly measure of consumer confidence continues to increase on more upbeat assessments of business and labor conditions in the United States.

The Conference Board reported its Consumer Confidence Index rose 4.9 points to 134.1 in May. That’s back to levels reported last fall, when the index hovered near 18-year highs.

“Consumers expect the economy to continue growing at a solid pace in the short term and, despite weak retail sales in April, these high levels of confidence suggest no significant pullback in consumer spending in the months ahead,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board.

The business research and membership association bases the index on the results of monthly household surveys. Economists monitor the index because consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of economic activity.

For May, assessments of current business and labor conditions pushed the present situation component of the index up 6.2 points to 175.2.

The proportion of consumers responding to the survey upon which the May index was based who described business conditions as “good” rose seven-tenths of a point to 38.3 percent. The share of those who characterized conditions as “bad” fell 1.1 points to 10.2 percent.

The proportion of consumers who said jobs are “plentiful” rose seven-tenths of a point to 47.2 percent. The share of those who called jobs are “hard to get” fell 2.4 points to 10.9 percent.

The expectations component of the index based on consumers’ short-term outlooks increased 3.9 points in May to 106.6.

The share of consumers who said they expect business conditions to improve over the next six months rose 2.5 points to 21.9 percent. The proportion of those anticipating worsening conditions fell six-tenths of a point to 8.4 percent.

The share of consumers who expect more jobs to become available in coming months rose 2.5 points to 19.2 percent.
The proportion of those anticipating fewer jobs decreased seven-tenths of a point to 12.5 percent.

While 22.6 percent of consumers expect their incomes to increase, up 1.1 points from April, 8.2 percent expect less income, up 1.4 points.