Consumer Confidence Is Down for Second Straight Month

U.S. consumers are still feeling upbeat about the economy, but that confidence has dwindled slightly during the past two months, according to The Conference Board.

The research organization’s monthly consumer confidence index, which had decreased in April, declined again — albeit slightly — in May.

The index now stands at 117.9, down from 119.4 in April — the numbers still suggest consumers are bullish, although confidence levels are slipping away from the 16-year high of 124.9 that the index hit in March.

Consumers’ assessment of present-day conditions held steady, suggesting little change in overall economic conditions,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “Looking ahead, consumers were somewhat less upbeat than in April but overall remain optimistic that the economy will continue expanding into the summer months.

The researchers said — for the most part — consumers’ assessment of current conditions held steady in May. Those saying business conditions were “good” edged down from 30.8 percent to 29.4 percent, but those saying business conditions were “bad” were unchanged at 13.7 percent.

Meanwhile, consumers’ view of the labor market also remained positive. Those stating jobs were “plentiful” declined marginally from 30.3 percent to 29.9 percent; however, those claiming jobs were “hard to get” decreased from 19.4 percent to 18.2 percent.

Consumers were less optimistic about the short-term outlook in May. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months decreased from 25.1 percent to 21.3 percent, however, those expecting business conditions to worsen declined only slightly, from 10.4 percent to 10.1 percent.

With multiple retailers filing bankruptcy and shuttering stores in recent months, a shrinking job market has been a source of concern for many in the retail sector. In May, The Conference Board said consumers’ outlook for the labor market was mixed. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead declined from 21.9 percent to 18.6 percent, but those anticipating fewer jobs decreased from 13.8 percent to 12 percent.

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