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April U.S. Consumer Confidence Drops a Bit

Overall consumer confidence fell to 101.3 from March’s 104.0, dragged down by a drop in future expectations. The measure of current attitudes rose 2.2 points.

BOSTON – In April, the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index fell to 101.3 from March’s 104.0. However, the decline was caused by attitudes about the future. Consumers looking at current conditions were actually a bit more optimistic.

The Present Situation Index – based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions – increased to 151.1  from 148.9 in March. The Expectations Index – based on consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business, and labor market conditions – fell to 68.1 from 74.0.

The Expectations Index has now been below 80 – the level associated with a likelier recession within the next year – every month since February 2022, with the exception of a brief uptick in December 2022. And while high-profile bank failures in April may have an impact on future expectations, they included after consumers were surveyed for the just-released report.

“Consumers became more pessimistic about the outlook for both business conditions and labor markets,” says Ataman Ozyildirim, senior director, economics at the Conference Board. “Compared to last month, fewer households expect business conditions to improve and more expect worsening conditions in the next six months. They also expect fewer jobs to be available over the short term.”

Attitudes about inflation didn’t change.

“April’s results show consumer inflation expectations over the next 12 months remain essentially unchanged from March at 6.2% – although that level is down substantially from the peak of 7.9% reached last year, it is still elevated,” says Ozyildirim. “Overall purchasing plans for homes, autos, appliances and vacations all pulled back in April, a signal that consumers may be economizing amid growing pessimism.”

Present situation

Current business conditions

  • 18.8% of consumers said business conditions were “good,” the same as last month
  • 18.1% said business conditions were “bad,” down from 19.3%

The labor market

  • 48.4% said jobs were “plentiful,” up slightly from 47.9%
  • 11.1% said jobs were “hard to get,” down slightly from 11.4% in March

Expectations six months in the future

Short-term business conditions

  • 13.5% of consumers expect business conditions to improve, down from 16.4%
  • 21.5% expect business conditions to worsen, up from 19.2%.

Short-term labor market

  • 12.5% expect more jobs to be available, down from 15.5%
  • 21.0% anticipate fewer jobs, up slightly from 20.5%

Short-term income prospects

  • 15.7% expect their incomes to increase, down slightly from 16.2% last month
  • 11.6% expect incomes will decrease, down from 13.8%

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