The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index Increased in May

Staff Report

Wednesday, May 29th, 2019

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index improved in May, following an increase in April. The Index now stands at 134.1 (1985=100), up from 129.2 in April. The Present Situation Index – based on consumers' assessment of current business and labor market conditions – increased from 169.0 to 175.2. The Expectations Index – based on consumers' short-term outlook for income, business and labor market conditions – increased from 102.7 last month to 106.6 this month.

"Consumer Confidence posted another gain in May and is now back to levels seen last Fall when the Index was hovering near 18-year highs," said Lynn Franco, Senior Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. "The increase in the Present Situation Index was driven primarily by employment gains. Expectations regarding the short-term outlook for business conditions and employment improved, but consumers' sentiment regarding their income prospects was mixed. Consumers expect the economy to continue growing at a solid pace in the short-term, and despite weak retail sales in April, these high levels of confidence suggest no significant pullback in consumer spending in the months ahead." 

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was May 16.

Consumers' assessment of present-day conditions improved further in May. Those stating business conditions are "good" increased from 37.6 percent to 38.3 percent, while those saying business conditions are "bad" decreased from 11.3 percent to 10.2 percent. Consumers' assessment of the labor market was also more positive. The percentage of consumers stating jobs are "plentiful" increased from 46.5 percent to 47.2 percent, while those claiming jobs are "hard to get" declined from 13.3 percent to 10.9 percent.

Consumers expressed greater optimism about the short-term outlook in May. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions will be better six months from now increased from 19.4 percent to 21.9 percent, while those expecting business conditions will worsen declined from 9.0 percent to 8.4 percent.

Consumers' outlook for the labor market was also more favorable. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead increased from 16.7 percent to 19.2 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs declined from 13.2 percent to 12.5 percent. Regarding their short-term income prospects, the percentage of consumers expecting an improvement increased from 21.5 percent to 22.6 percent, however, the proportion expecting a decrease rose from 6.8 percent to 8.2 percent.