Consumer Confidence Index edges up

Lynn Franco

A measure of consumer confidence has edged up as business re-openings buoy expectations for improving economic conditions in the United States.

Consumers remain wary, nonetheless, about the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board. “While the decline in confidence appears to have stopped for the moment, the uneven path to recovery and potential second wave are likely to keep a cloud of uncertainty hanging over consumers’ heads.”

The Conference Board reported its Consumer Confidence Index rose nine-tenths of a point to 86.6 in May. The gain follows a nearly 32-point drop in April.

The business research and membership group 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.

Consumers remain worried about their financial prospects and the potential for inflation, Franco said.

Less upbeat assessments of current business and labor conditions pushed down the present situation component of the index 1.9 points to 71.1.

The share of those who responded to the survey upon which the May index was based who characterized business conditions as “good” fell 3.6 points to 16.3 percent. The proportion of those who said conditions are “bad rose 6.8 points to 52.1 percent.

The share of those who called jobs “plentiful” fell 1.4 points to 17.4 percent. But the proportion of those who said jobs are “hard to get” fell more — 6.7 points to 27.8 percent.

More optimistic outlooks pushed up the expectations component of the index 2.6 points to 96.9.

The proportion of those who expect business conditions to improve over the next six months rose 3.5 points to 43.3 percent. The share of those anticipating worsening conditions fell 3.7 points to 21.4 percent.

While 14 percent of consumers expect their incomes to increase, down 3.2 points, the proportion of those who expect their incomes to decrease fell 3.4 points to 15 percent.