Consumers were less optimistic about the short-term outlook in May

Consumer confidence - shoppers in mall
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June 01, 2016

U.S. consumer confidence took another hit in May—declining for the second month in a row.

The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index now sits at 92.6, down from the 94.7 seen in April. The Index began 2016 with a January reading of 97.8—a level it has yet to rebound back to.

The Conference Board reports that consumers' appraisal of current conditions weakened in May. The percentage of consumers stating that business conditions are "good" improved from 24.2 percent to 25.9 percent. However, those saying business conditions are "bad" also increased, from 18.2 percent to 21.6 percent.

Consumers' appraisal of the labor market was less favorable. Those claiming that jobs are "plentiful" was virtually unchanged at 24.3 percent, however those claiming that jobs are "hard to get" increased from 22.8 percent in April to 24.4 percent in May.

Consumers were also less optimistic about the short-term outlook in May. Those expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased from 13.8 percent to 15.1 percent, but those expecting business conditions to worsen also rose, from 10.8 percent to 11.6 percent.

Consumers' outlook for the labor market was also less favorable. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead was virtually unchanged at 12.8 percent, but those anticipating fewer jobs increased from 16.7 percent to 18.1 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to increase improved from 15.8 percent to 16.2 percent in May, while the proportion expecting a reduction in income remained steady at 12.4 percent.

"Consumer confidence declined slightly in May, primarily due to consumers rating current conditions less favorably than in April," said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. "Expectations declined further, as consumers remain cautious about the outlook for business and labor market conditions. Thus, they continue to expect little change in economic activity 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 global provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch.

References: The Conference Board