Consumer confidence back up in May

Consumer confidence hedged up a bit to near-March highs in May after dropping in April. The Index now reads 83.0, up from a downwardly revised estimate of 81.7 in April.

“Consumer confidence improved slightly in May, as consumers assessed current conditions, in particular the labor market, more favorably," said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. "Expectations regarding the short-term outlook for the economy, jobs and personal finances were also more upbeat. In fact, the percentage of consumers expecting their incomes to grow over the next six months is the highest since December 2007 (20.2%). Thus, despite last month’s decline, consumers’ confidence appears to be growing.”

The Present Situation Index also increased to 80.4 from 78.5. Even though fewer said business conditions were "good" in May, those considering them "bad" also declined. The number of those claiming jobs were "plentiful" went up 1.1%, and fewer said they were "hard to get."

Meanwhile, the Expectations Index was up to 84.8 compared to 83.9 in April. Those expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased by 0.3% -- and those expecting them to worsen decreased by the same amount. The bulk of the optimism rested on the outlook for the labor market, with those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead increasing 0.7% and those expecting their incomes to grow increasing by 1.5%.

At 83.9, March had the highest score in recent years.

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