Index reflects increasing consumer confidence

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

The Conference Board reported that its Consumer Confidence Index rose 2.4 points to 128 for May. A measure of current conditions climbed 4.2 points to 161.7, the highest reading since March 2001. A measure of expectations increased 1.3 points to 105.6.

Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators for the Conference Board, said consumer assessments of current conditions suggest the level of economic growth in the United States during the second quarter of 2018 likely will improve from the first quarter.

“Overall, confidence levels remain at historically strong levels and should continue to support solid consumer spending in the near term,” Franco said.

The Conference Board, a business research and membership association, bases the index on the results of monthly surveys of U.S. households.

Economists closely monitor the index because consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of economic activity in the country.

For May, consumer assessments of current conditions drove up the present situation component of the index.

The proportion of consumers responding to the survey upon which the May index was based who described business conditions as”good” rose 3.6 points to 38.4 percent. The share of those who characterized business conditions as “bad” slipped three-tenths of a point to 12 percent.

The proportion of consumers who said jobs were “plentiful” increased 4.2 points to 42.4 percent. Those who called jobs “hard to get” edged up three-tenths of a point to 15.8 percent.

A more modest outlook pushed up the expectations component of the index.

The share of consumers who said they expect business conditions to improve over the next six months rose fell a half point to 23.1 percent. But the proportion of those who said they expect worsening conditions fell more — 1.6 points to 8.3 percent.

The share of consumers who said they expect more jobs to become available in coming months rose 1.1 points to 19.7 percent. The proportion of those anticipating fewer job openings increased seven-tenths of a point to 13.9 percent.

Meanwhile, 21.8 percent of consumers said they expect their incomes to increase, up a half point, and 8.2 percent said they expect to earn less, up three-tenths of a point.