Despite gains in optimism for increased incomes, consumer confidence fell in May, following a slight decline in April. Consumers were less positive about current business and labor market conditions, and they were more pessimistic about the short-term outlook, says Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the influential Conference Board.
"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," Franco said.
Consumers’ appraisal of present-day conditions deteriorated in May, the Board reports. Those 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.
The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had declined slightly in April, fell further in May. The Index now stands at 64.9 (1985=100), down from 68.7 in April. The Expectations Index declined to 77.6 from 80.4, while the Present Situation Index decreased to 45.9 from 51.2 last month.
The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was May 16, 2012.
Consumers have also grown less upbeat about the short-term outlook, the Board reports. Those expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months decreased to 16.6 percent from 18.5 percent. However, those anticipating business conditions will worsen decreased to 13.1 percent from 14.2 percent, the Conference Board said.
Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was also less positive. 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 improved to 15.2 percent from 13.9 percent.