Consumer Confidence took a rest in May as the headline index dropped slightly falling from 117.5 (revised down from original 121.7) to 117.2 and more than a point and a half below consensus forecasts of 118.8. Despite the weaker than expected report, confidence levels have recovered more than half of the declines from the pre-COVID highs.
One very strong aspect of the report this morning was the Jobs Plentiful index which surged 29% versus April, marking the third straight m/m gain of over 19% during which time the index has doubled. That’s easily the largest ever three-month gain in the index. Jobs are so plentiful now that the index is actually higher than it was back in February 2020 when people were still figuring out what COVID was right before the WHO declared it a pandemic in March 2020. With a record number of job openings per the JOLTS survey and consumers viewing the ability to find a job just as easy now as it was before the pandemic, it once again leads back to the question of why there are 8.2 million fewer Americans working now than there were in February 2020?
On another note, it’s really just a matter of semantics at this point, but since the mid-1960s there has never been another period where the Jobs Plentiful index erased this much of its losses and the economy was still in a recession. The NBER is the organization in charge of dating recession start and end dates, and while it isn’t meant in any way to be a timing indicator, at this point the recession is not only over, but it has been for about a year now. Going back to 1980, the median number of days between the end of a recession and when the NBER makes the official announcement is 476 days. Based on that, we could expect the NBER announcement to come out sometime later this Summer. Click here to view Bespoke’s premium membership options for our best research available.