Consumer confidence in the United States has dipped to a six-month low in May, reflecting growing concerns about the current state of the labor market and the outlook for business conditions. The latest data from the Conference Board reveals a decline in consumer sentiment, underscoring the persistent uncertainty surrounding the economy. The consumer confidence index, a widely monitored metric, dropped to 102.3 in May from an upwardly revised 103.7 in the previous month, signaling a downward shift in consumer sentiment. This reading is well below pre-pandemic levels, indicating the prevailing uncertainty in the economy.
Labor market concerns:
One significant factor contributing to the decline in consumer confidence is the view on the labor market. The share of consumers who perceived jobs as “plentiful” reached its lowest level in over two years, raising apprehensions about employment opportunities. Respondents’ expectations for more job prospects in the next six months also dropped to the lowest level since 2016. The reading suggests other indicators this week such as April JOLTS on May 31 will probably show the labor market is weakening.
Outlook for business conditions
The survey also revealed a decrease in consumer expectations for better business conditions. The index measuring future business conditions declined, reflecting a decline in optimism among consumers. This drop was further exacerbated by concerns surrounding persistent inflation and fears of a potential recession. However, despite the overall decline in confidence, expectations for jobs and incomes over the next six months remained relatively stable.
Current conditions and buying plans:
The gauge of current conditions, reflecting consumers’ assessment of the present economic situation, decreased to 148.6, the lowest level observed this year. Despite this decline, buying plans for cars, homes, and major appliances increased, indicating resilient household spending. Consumers seem to be adapting to the challenging environment by making essential purchases, despite their concerns about the economy.