Conference Board Consumer Confidence

The Conference Board (CB) releases the Consumer Confidence Index on a monthly basis to track how consumers feel about the economy, employment, and spending. The supporting data is based on surveys of about 5,000 different consumers each month and asks questions regarding the current economic conditions as well as their outlook six months ahead.

In addition to the Consumer Confidence Index, the CB also publishes two other Indexes in the same report – the Present Situation Index, which focuses on current conditions, and the Expectations Index, based on near-term outlooks.

This morning’s Consumer Confidence Index for May came in at 102.3, better than forecast but down from an upwardly revised 103.7 in April. The Present Situation Index decreased to 148.6 from 151.8 last month and the Expectations Index fell to 71.5 from 71.7 in April.

The Expectations Index has been in “recessionary territory” (the level associated with a recession within the next year) since February 2022 with the exception of one brief up month in December 2022.

Overall, consumers’ views of current employment conditions deteriorated as have opinions on future business conditions. Consumer plans to purchase homes held steady while plans for big-ticket items (e.g., appliances) and auto purchases ticked up slightly in May.

Here’s an excerpt from today’s press release:

“Consumer confidence declined in May as consumers’ view of current conditions became somewhat less upbeat while their expectations remained gloomy,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, Senior Director, Economics at The Conference Board. “Their assessment of current employment conditions saw the most significant deterioration, with the proportion of consumers reporting jobs are ‘plentiful’ falling 4 ppts from 47.5 percent in April to 43.5 percent in May. Consumers also became more downbeat about future business conditions, weighing on the expectations index. However, expectations for jobs and incomes over the next six months held relatively steady. While consumer confidence has fallen across all age and income categories over the past three months, May’s decline reflects a particularly notable worsening in the outlook among consumers over 55 years of age.”