After a crappy economic start in the first three months of 2019, U.S. consumer confidence showed signs of rebirth in April. For the short-term, consumers see a strong economy into the summer and the fall with solid job and business growth, but 2020 is another question.
Recent surveys indicate the April bump is still a good sign but remains below year-ago levels.
The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index increased in April after ticking down in March. Consumers’ stating business conditions are “good” increased from 34.7% to 37.3%, while those saying business conditions are “bad” decreased from 12.4% to 11.7%. Consumers’ stating jobs are “plentiful” increased from 42.5% to 46.8%, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” decreased from 13.8% to 13.3%.
Consumers’ short-term outlook also improved in April. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions will be better six months from now increased from 17.2% to 19.9%. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead increased from 16.8% to 17.2%, while those anticipating fewer jobs decreased from 14.3% to 13.2%.
The Conference Board found the percentage of consumers expecting an improvement was virtually unchanged at 21.5%, while the proportion expecting a decrease declined, from 7.4% to 7.0%.
The University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment finds the Index of Consumer Sentiment and the Current Economic Conditions Index has declined since the start of 2019. The Index of Consumer Sentiment has declined 1.6% in April, compared to April 2018. The Current Economic Conditions Index is now down 2.3% over the past year. Furthermore, the Index of Consumer Expectations is down 1.1% over the past year.
The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index improved modestly in March, increasing 0.1 points to 101. The Uncertainty Index dropped six points to 79, returning to a more normal level for recent years.
A report/forecast by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive predicts new vehicle retail sales in April are expected to fall 5.3% compared to this time last year. The industry continues to show signs of softness with April representing the 10th straight month of year-over-year retail sales declines.