Washington, DC CNN
US consumer confidence declined in April, as Americans became more pessimistic regarding the job market.
The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index (which measures attitudes towards the economy and job market) fell to 101.3, down from 104, in March, and marked the lowest level since the month of July 2022. The Conference Board's economic expectation measure fell in April. It has been below the threshold "associated with a possible recession in the next 12 months" for every month except December.
The consumer attitude has remained stable since the turmoil in the banking sector last month. However, high inflation and economic uncertainties have continued to affect consumers.
Ataman Ozyildirim is the senior director of Economics at The Conference Board. In a statement that accompanied the data, he said, "Consumers have become more pessimistic regarding the outlook for business conditions and the labor market." "Compared to last months, less households expect the business conditions to improve. More expect worsening conditions over the next six-month period. Also, they expect that there will be fewer job opportunities in the near future.
This is in line with government statistics that show the labor market showing some cracks. In March, employers added 236,000 new jobs, the lowest gain in the last two years. Job openings also fell below 10,000,000 for the first since May 2021. The large companies continue to announce job cuts, like 3M which announced Tuesday that it would be cutting 6,000 positions.
According to the April survey, concerns about the economy entering a recession continued last month. The Federal Reserve and other economists expect a recession to occur later this year, as the Fed's interest rate increases take hold. In April, the percentage of consumers who expect more jobs fell from 15% in March to 12.5%, while those expecting fewer jobs rose to 21%, from 20.5%.
In an analyst note, Ian Shepherdson wrote: "Expectations indicate weaker consumption but not a catastrophe."
In February, household spending increased at a slower rate than in January when it jumped by 2%. Consumer spending data for March will be released by the Department of Commerce on Friday.
The preliminary reading of consumer sentiment for April by the University of Michigan also revealed that consumers were more affected than ever before by high inflation and economic fear.