The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index declined in May for the second consecutive month. The Index now stands at 64.9, down from 68.7 in April. The Expectations Index declined to 77.6 from 80.4, and the Present Situation Index decreased from 51.2 last month to 45.9.
"Consumers were less positive about current business and labor market conditions, and they were more pessimistic about the short-term outlook,” Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board, said in a statement. “However, consumers were more upbeat about their income prospects, which should help sustain spending. Taken together, the retreat in the Present Situation Index and softening in consumer expectations suggest that the pace of economic growth in the months ahead may moderate."
Consumers claiming business conditions are "bad" increased to 34.3 percent from 33.2 percent, while those saying business conditions are "good" decreased to 13.6 percent from 15.5 percent. Consumers’ appraisal of the job market was also less favorable. Those claiming jobs are "hard to get" increased to 41.0 percent from 38.1 percent, while those stating jobs are "plentiful" decreased to 7.9 percent from 8.4 percent.
Nor are consumers any more upbeat about their short-term oulook, the Conference Board reported. Those expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months decreased in May to 16.6 percent from 18.5 percent. However, those anticipating business conditions will worsen decreased to 13.1 percent from 14.2 percent.
Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead decreased to 15.8 percent from 16.9 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs increased to 21.0 percent from 18.4 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes did improve to 15.2 percent from 13.9 percent. The Conference Board Index is one of two of the most-closely watched for consumer attitudes. It is a reflection of the uncertainties over the progress of the economic recovery that the other, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey, released last Friday, showed consumer confidence at its highest level in five years after nine straight months of increases.
The government’s jobs report for May will be issued on Friday. The April report showed that the economy added a less than forecast 115,000 jobs.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.