April 30, 2023
The University of Michigan’s US Consumer Sentiment gauge rose +2.4% in April to 63.5, though that is still down -2.6% from a year ago, and well below pre-Covid levels.
The Conference Board’s US Consumer Confidence index fell -2.7 points in April to 101.3, “below the level which often signals a recession looming in the short-term,” and remains noticeably below pre-Covid levels.
In April, 18.8% of consumers surveyed by the Conference Board said business conditions were “good,” the same as in March. 18.1%, said business conditions were “bad,” down from 19.3% in March. 48.4% of consumers surveyed said jobs were “plentiful,” up from 47.9%, while only 11.1% of consumers said jobs were “hard to get,” down from 11.4% in March.
U.S. consumer confidence, according the Conference Board survey, is being pulled down more by future expectations than by current conditions.
Personal incomes (not adjusted for inflation) rose +0.3% m/m in March, up +6.0% from a year ago. Taking inflation into account, real disposable personal incomes rose +0.3% m/m in March, and were up +4.0% from a year ago, back in positive territory after declining for the past two years.
Consumer spending was flat m/m in March, but was up +6.2% from a year ago. However, much of this gets eaten up by inflation (with PCE running at +4.2% y/y). Real spending was flat m/m in March, and up a less impressive +1.9% from a year ago.
The US personal savings rate rose in March to 5.1%, up from a near-all-time low of 2.4% in September.
U.S. consumers stockpiled significant savings during Covid, though it’s unclear how evenly distributed they are across income levels.