The summer doldrums might be hitting consumers earlier than usual.
The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index dipped further in May on top of a drop in April. The index is now at 117.9, down from 119.4 in April. Of the two components of the index, the present situation part was essentially flat at 140.3 — compared with 140.7 in April — while the expectations portion fell to 102.6 from 105.4.
For the rolling 12 months, the index hit its high in March at 124.9, with a low at 92.4 in May 2016.
Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board, said of consumers, “[Their] assessment of present-day conditions held steady, suggesting little change in overall economic conditions. Looking ahead, consumers were somewhat less upbeat than in April, but overall remain optimistic that the economy will continue expanding into the summer months.”
For now, consumers seem to feel that business conditions are holding steady. Respondents who said business conditions are “good” slipped slightly to 29.4 percent from 30.8 percent, while those who said conditions are “bad” were unchanged at 13.7 percent. On the labor front, those who said jobs were “plentiful” dipped to 29.9 percent from 30.3 percent, while those who said jobs were “hard to get” fell to 18.2 percent from 19.4 percent.
But if consumers were comfortable with current economic conditions, the opposite was true regarding their short-term perspective. Their short-term view — about six months out — suggests caution ahead. Consumers who said they expect business conditions to improve over the next six months declined to 21.3 percent from 25.1 percent. And respondents who expect business conditions to worsen were essentially flat at 10.1 percent, from 10.4 percent in April.
On the jobs front, consumers who expect more jobs in the months ahead fell to 18.6 percent from 21.9 percent, but those who anticipate fewer jobs decreased to 12 percent from 13.8 percent in April. And when it comes to their incomes, respondents who said they expect an increase edged up to 19.2 percent from 18.7 percent, but those who expect a decrease also rose, to 8.7 percent from 7.6 percent.
The monthly survey for The Conference Board was conducted by information and analytics firm Nielsen. The cutoff date for preliminary results was May 18.