New York - The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index, which had improved in April, reversed course in May.
The Index now stands at 60.8 (1985=100), down from 66.0 in April. The Present Situation Index decreased to 39.3 from 40.2. The Expectations Index declined to 75.2 from 83.2 last month.
The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by The Nielsen Company. The cutoff date for May's preliminary results was May 18, 2011.
Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, said, "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."
Consumers' assessment of current conditions, while still mixed, was somewhat less favorable than in April. Those claiming business conditions are "good" decreased to 14.6 percent from 15.5 percent, while those claiming business conditions are "bad" increased to 37.1 percent from 35.9 percent.
Consumers' appraisal of the labor market was also less favorable than last month. Those stating jobs are "hard to get" increased to 43.9 percent from 42.4 percent, while those stating jobs are "plentiful" increased to 5.6 percent from 5.1 percent.
Consumers' short-term outlook, which had improved marginally in April, turned pessimistic in May. The proportion of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months declined to 17.0 percent from 19.2 percent, while those anticipating business conditions will worsen increased to 15.5 percent from 14.0 percent.
Consumers were also pessimistic about the labor market outlook for the next six months. Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead declined to 15.9 percent from 17.8 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs increased to 20.8 percent from 18.7 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes declined to 14.8 percent from 17.0 percent.