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May 31, 2005
Consumer Confidence Rebounds

Consumer confidence rose in May as Americans grew more positive about jobs and the economy, according the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index.

The index now stands at 102.2, up from 97.5 in April. The survey is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households.

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"Consumer confidence improved in May, gaining back nearly all of the ground it lost in April," says Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board's Consumer Research Center. "The Present Situation Index, despite fluctuations in recent months, is more than 26 points higher than a year ago. Consumers' concerns about the economy and jobs have eased. The Expectations Index, while slightly below year-ago levels, continues to signal economic growth in the months ahead."

Consumers' assessment of current conditions was more positive in May than in April. Those claiming business conditions are "bad" edged down to 16.8 percent from 17.6 percent. Those claiming conditions are "good" was virtually unchanged at 26.5 percent. The employment picture was mixed. Consumers saying jobs are "hard to get" increased to 24.2 percent from 22.9 percent, but those claiming jobs are "plentiful" rose to 22.6 percent from 20.4 percent.

Consumers' expectations for the next six months, which had been losing ground since January, reversed course in May. Those anticipating business conditions to improve increased to 18.6 percent from 17.7 percent, while consumers expecting business conditions to worsen slid to 9.5 percent from 9.9 percent.

The outlook for the labor market was also brighter in May. Those expecting more jobs to become available in the coming months edged up to 14.9 percent from 14.0 percent. Those expecting fewer jobs declined to 15.9 percent from 18.4 percent. The proportion of consumers anticipating their incomes to improve in the months ahead rose to 17.2 percent from 16.8 percent.

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