US Consumer Confidence Falls as Job, Income Prospects Ebb

Shoppers wearing protective masks carry bags in Walnut Creek, Calif., in April. (Bloomberg News)
Shoppers wearing protective masks carry bags in Walnut Creek, Calif., in April. (Bloomberg News)

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U.S. consumer confidence fell slightly in May for the first time this year as Americans were less optimistic about future job and income prospects but at the same time remain upbeat about current conditions.

The Conference Board’s index was little changed at 117.2, from a downwardly revised 117.5 reading in April, according to a May 25 report. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a reading of 118.8.

The group’s measure of economic expectations fell to 99.1, a three-month low, while a gauge of sentiment about current conditions rose to 144.3, a pandemic high. Fewer people expected more jobs in the next six months, the report showed.


While consumers’ outlook pulled back, the reading still hovered near pandemic-era highs. Rising prices and elevated unemployment levels may be curbing additional improvement in sentiment as the economy meanders back to its pre-COVID-19 strength.

“Consumers’ assessment of present-day conditions improved, suggesting economic growth remains robust” in the second quarter, said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, in a statement. “However, consumers’ short-term optimism retreated, prompted by expectations of decelerating growth and softening labor market conditions in the months ahead.”

A measure of inflation expectations for the next year edged higher, according to the May 25 report. That follows a separate survey published earlier this month by the University of Michigan that showed consumers expect a 4.6% increase in inflation over the next year, the highest reading in a decade.

Consumers in the May 25 report said they were less likely to purchase cars, homes and major appliances in the next six months.

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