Confidence index slips, but still reflects expectations for growth

A measure of consumer confidence has dropped for a second straight month, but still reflects optimism the United States economy will continue to grow.

The Conference Board reported that its Consumer Confidence Index dropped 1.5 points to 117.9 in May. The index has retreated 5.8 points from what in March was its highest reading since December 2000.

“Consumers’ assessment of present-day conditions held steady, suggesting little change in overall economic conditions. Looking ahead, consumers were somewhat less upbeat than in April, but overall remain optimistic that the economy will continue expanding into the summer months,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators for 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 more than two-thirds of economic activity.

For May, a component of the index tracking consumers’ assessments of the present situation edged up four-tenths of a point to 140.7.

The proportion of consumers responding to the survey upon which the latest index was based who characterized business conditions as “good” fell 1.4 points to 29.4 percent. The share of those who described business conditions as “bad” held steady at 13.7 percent.

The proportion of consumers who called jobs “plentiful” slipped four-tenths of a point to 29.4 percent. But the share of those who said jobs were “hard to get” fell 1.2 points to 18.2 percent.

A component of the index tracking the expectations fell 2.8 points to 102.6.

The share of consumers who expect business conditions to improve over the next six months fell 3.8 points to 21.3 percent. The proportion of those anticipating worsening conditions edged down three-tenths of a point to 10.1 percent.

The share of consumers who expect more jobs to become available in coming months fell 3.3 points to 18.6 percent. But the proportion of those who anticipate fewer jobs fell 1.8 points to 12 percent.

While 19.2 percent of consumers said they expect their incomes to increase, up a half point, 8.7 percent anticipate decreasing incomes, up 1.1 points.