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Consumer Sentiment Ticks Up, Partisan Divide Remains

U.S. consumer sentiment rose marginally in May, while a stark partisan divide persists in defining views on the economy. That’s according to data from the University of Michigan, which recently released its closely-watched monthly surveys on consumer sentiment, economic conditions and consumer expectations.

UofM’s Index of Consumer Sentiment ticked up a pinch from April’s reading of 97 to 97.1 in May. That’s up from 94.7 a year ago. “Consumer sentiment has continued to move along the high plateau established following (President) Trump’s election,” reads a statement from survey director Richard Curtin. “The May figure was nearly identical to the December to May average of 97.3.”

Meanwhile, an index gauging consumers’ views on current economic conditions slipped from 112.7 in April to 111.7 in May, though it was still better than the 109.9 reading from a year ago. Interestingly, views on the economy appear to be heavily dictated by political party affiliation. Nearly 80% of Republicans expect the economy to continue expanding, while 66% of Democrats anticipate a recession over the next five years.

On the whole, however, consumer expectations are improving, the survey says. The UofM reading on such expectations increased to 87.7 in May, up from 87 in April and 84.9 a year ago.