One of the most closely-watched economic health stats is the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index®, and it is in line with most of the stats we’ve been seeing lately. Just as everything was pointing up early in 2011, now this survey and most others are pointing down.
The baseline number took a significant hit in the course of a month. It stood at 66.0 in April, and has fallen to 60.8 for May. The Present Situation result dipped far less sharply, from 40.2 to 39.3. But the Expectations result was even more severe than the baseline drop, falling from 83.2 to 75.2.
Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, commented, “A more pessimistic outlook is the primary reason for this month’s decline in consumer confidence. Consumers are considerably more apprehensive about future business and labor market conditions as well as their income prospects. Inflation concerns, which had eased last month, have picked up once again. On the other hand, consumers’ assessment of current conditions declined only modestly, suggesting no significant pickup or deterioration in the pace of growth.”
Problems persist in the employment facet of the economy – 43.9% believe jobs are hard to get, up from 42.4% in April. Only 5.6% believe that jobs are plentiful, but despite the fact that the hard-to-get number worsened, the 5.6% result was actually an improvement over April’s 5.1% reading.
19.2% were expecting economic improvement over the next six months – that number has dropped to 17.0%, while those expecting conditions to worsen increased from 14.0% to 15.5%.