Consumer confidence in the United States suffered a record plunge in April as the coronavirus wreaked havoc on the economy and threw millions of Americans out of work.
The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index fell to 86.9 from a downwardly revised 118.8 in March. That is the steepest decline since 1973, when confidence plunged during the oil crisis. It was worse than economists expected.
Not surprisingly, Americans have a very grim view of what is happening in the economy right now. But they unexpectedly turned sunnier about what they expected six months from now.
The Conference Board’s gauge of Americans’ feelings about the current state of the economy plummeted to 76.4 from 166.7. That is the largest decline recorded for this measure.
Americans became much more negative about the labor market. Those who said jobs are “hard to get” rose to 33.6 percent from 13.8 percent. Those who said jobs are “plentiful” dropped to 20 percent from 43 percent.
The gauge of future expectations — what consumers think will happen six months from now— actually improved to 93.8 from 86.8 in March. A huge jump in expectations for the job market indicates that Americans think the economy will be in much better shape when it reopens after the shutdown orders are lifted. The share expecting more jobs six months from now rose from 16.9 percent to 41.0 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs in the months ahead moved up from 17.6 percent to 20.8 percent.
Americans know the current situation is grim but are confident of better times in the not too distant future.