Consumer confidence was virtually unchanged in May after improving more than expected in the previous month, the Conference Board reported Tuesday.
The Consumer Confidence Index edged up to 93.2 from a revised 93.0 reading in April, the New York-based group said. The latest reading was slightly below the 94 figure that analysts had expected.
Still, Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board’s consumer research center, was upbeat and said that strong employment gains in March and April were helping boost consumers’ assessment of current conditions.
“This has made consumers more positive about short-term prospects in the months ahead,” she said in a statement. “The pickup in the job market is offsetting the impact of rising gas prices and escalating tensions overseas.”
April’s consumer confidence figure was intially reported at 92.9, which was better than the 88.5 that analysts had projected.
Economists closely track consumer confidence because consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.
The report said that consumers continue to rate current conditions as favorable. Those saying business conditions have improved rose to 22.3 percent in May, up from 21.7 percent the previous month. Those claiming conditions have worsened remained unchanged at 21.7 percent. Consumers claiming jobs are “hard to get” rose to 30.6 percent from 28.0. Those saying jobs are “plentiful,” however, also increased to 16.6 percent from 15.6 percent.
Consumers’ outlook for the next six months remain positive. Those expecting business conditions to improve in the next six months rose to 22.9 percent from 20.8 percent. Those expecting conditions to worsen, however, edged up to 10.1 percent from 9.3 percent.
The employment outlook continues to show signs of improvement. Those anticipating more jobs to become available in the next six months increased to 19.2 percent from 18.3 percent. Those expecting fewer jobs dipped to 17.2 percent from 17.7 percent. The proportion of consumers anticipating an increase in their incomes declined again and is now 16.8 percent, down from 17.4 percent last month.