The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index® Virtually Unchanged as Expectations Soften
25 May. 2021
The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index® held steady in May, following a gain in April. The Index now stands at 117.2 (1985=100), down marginally from 117.5 in April. The Present Situation Index—based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions—increased from 131.9 to 144.3.
However, the Expectations Index—based on consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business, and labor market conditions—fell to 99.1 in May, down from 107.9 last month.
The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey®, based on an online sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Toluna, a technology company that delivers real-time consumer insights and market research through its innovative technology, expertise, and panel of over 36 million consumers. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was May 19.
“After rebounding sharply in recent months, U.S. consumer confidence was essentially unchanged in May,” said Lynn Franco, Senior Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “Consumers’ assessment of present-day conditions improved, suggesting economic growth remains robust in Q2. However, consumers’ short-term optimism retreated, prompted by expectations of decelerating growth and softening labor market conditions in the months ahead. Consumers were also less upbeat this month about their income prospects—a reflection, perhaps, of both rising inflation expectations and a waning of further government support until expanded Child Tax Credit payments begin reaching parents in July. Overall, consumers remain optimistic, and confidence should remain resilient in the short term, as vaccination rates climb, COVID-19 cases decline further, and the economy fully reopens.”
Consumers’ appraisal of current conditions improved in May. The percentage of consumers claiming business conditions are “good” fell from 19.4 percent to 18.7 percent, but the proportion claiming business conditions are “bad” also declined, from 24.5 percent to 21.8 percent. Consumers’ assessment of the labor market improved. The percentage of consumers saying jobs are “plentiful” climbed from 36.3 percent to 46.8 percent, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” declined from 14.7 percent to 12.2 percent.
Consumers’ optimism about the short-term outlook waned in May. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months fell from 33.1 percent to 30.3 percent, while the proportion expecting business conditions to worsen rose from 12.1 percent to 14.8 percent. Consumers were also less upbeat about the job market. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead fell from 31.7 percent to 27.2 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs rose from 14.4 percent last month to 17.3 percent in May. Regarding short-term income prospects, 14.5 percent of consumers expect their incomes to increase in the next six months, down from 17.4 percent in April. The proportion expecting their incomes to decrease also fell, from 10.5 percent in April to 9.3 percent in May.
NOTE: The May 25, 2021 release of The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index® is the first based on survey data collected online. Data has been restated back to January 2021, the effective changeover month; no other data revision was necessary. Click here for a Technical Note with complete details.
Source: May 2021 Consumer Confidence Survey®
The Conference Board
Jim Hepple is an Assistant Professor at the University of Aruba and is Managing Director of Tourism Analytics.