Michigan Consumer Sentiment Drops 10% in May to Six-Month Low

Consumer sentiment fell over 10% in May to a 6-month low according to the final report for the Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index. The index fell 8.1 points (-10.5%) to 69.1 from the April final. The latest reading was above the forecast of 67.4.

The Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index is a monthly survey of consumer confidence levels in the U.S. with regards to the economy, personal finances, business conditions, and buying conditions, conducted by the University of Michigan. There are two reports released each month; a preliminary report released mid-month and a final report released at the end of the month.

Joanne Hsu, the director of surveys, made the following comments:

Consumer sentiment fell back about 10% this May following three consecutive months of very little change. This 8.1 index-point decrease is statistically significant and brings sentiment to its lowest reading in about five months. The year-ahead outlook for business conditions saw a particularly notable decline, while views about personal finances were little changed. Consumers expressed particular concern over labor markets; they expect unemployment rates to rise and income growth to slow. The prospect of continued high interest rates also weighed down consumer views. These deteriorating expectations suggest that multiple factors pose downside risk for consumer spending. Still, sentiment remains almost 20% above a year ago and about 40% above the all-time historic low in June 2022, reflecting how much consumer views have improved as inflation eased.

Year-ahead inflation expectations edged up from 3.2% last month to 3.3% this month, remaining above the 2.3-3.0% range seen in the two years prior to the pandemic. Long-run inflation expectations held steady at 3.0% for the second straight month. Although they have been within the narrow 2.9-3.1% range for 30 of the last 34 months, long-run inflation expectations remain elevated relative to the 2.2-2.6% range seen in the two years pre-pandemic.