TECHNOLOGY

Consumer confidence slips in May

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Wary about business conditions and jobs, consumer confidence dipped a bit further in May. But consumers still remain optimistic on the whole about the economy.

The Conference Board said Tuesday that its Consumer Confidence Index fell to 117.9 in May, from a revised 119.4 in April. The index hit 124.9 in March, its highest mark in 16 years.

"Consumer confidence decreased slightly in May, following a moderate decline in April," said Lynn Franco, director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. "However, consumers' assessment of present-day conditions held steady, suggesting little change in overall economic conditions,” Franco added. “Looking ahead, consumers were somewhat less upbeat than in April, but overall remain optimistic that the economy will continue expanding into the summer months."

While the Expectations Index dropped to 102.6 in May from 105.4 last month, the Present Situation Index increased marginally to 140.7 from 140.3. This sentiment also impacted consumers' appraisal of current conditions. Those saying business conditions are "good" edged down to 29.4% from 30.8% last month, but those saying business conditions are "bad" was unchanged at 13.7%.

Consumers’ assessment of the labor market still remains wary. Those stating jobs are "plentiful" declined marginally to 29.9% from 30.3%, however, those claiming jobs are "hard to get" decreased to 18.2% from 19.4% in April.

Consumers remain equally cautious about short-term improvements. Specifically, the percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months decreased to 21.3% from 25.1%. On a more optimistic note, however, those expecting business conditions to worsen declined marginally to 10.1% from 10.4% last month.

Consumers also remain torn on labor market expectations. Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead declined to 18.6% from 21.9% last month, but those anticipating fewer jobs decreased to 12.0% from 13.8% in April.

On an optimistic note however, the percentage of consumers expecting their incomes to increase edged up to 19.2% from 18.7%. However, the proportion expecting a decrease also rose to 8.7% from 7.6% in April.

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