Consumer outlook starting to thaw, according to Consumer Confidence Index
Long an indicator of consumer attitudes, the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index, which had declined in April, regained ground in May.
The Index now stands at 102.2, up from 97.5 in April. The Present Situation Index increased to 116.7 from 113.8. The Expectations Index improved to 92.5 from 86.7.
Consumers' assessment of current conditions was also more positive in May than in April, according to the Index. Those claiming business conditions are "bad" edged down to 16.8 percent from 17.6 percent. Those claiming conditions are "good" was virtually unchanged at 26.5 percent. The employment picture was mixed. Consumers saying jobs are "hard to get" increased to 24.2 percent from 22.9 percent, but those claiming jobs are "plentiful" rose to 22.6 percent from 20.4 percent.
Consumers' expectations for the next six months, which had been losing ground since January, reversed course in May. Those anticipating business conditions to improve increased to 18.6 percent from 17.7 percent, while consumers expecting business conditions to worsen slid to 9.5 percent from 9.9 percent.
The outlook for the labor market was also brighter in May. Those expecting more jobs to become available in the coming months edged up to 14.9 percent from 14 percent, while those expecting fewer jobs declined to 15.9 percent from 18.4 percent. The proportion of consumers anticipating their incomes to improve in the months ahead rose to 17.2 percent from 16.8 percent.