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Consumer confidence suffers record drop in April, but Americans more hopeful of future

Published: April 28, 2020

By Jeffry Bartash

Consumer confidence index tumbles to 86.9 from 118.8

The numbers: The confidence Americans have in the economy experienced the biggest plunge in April in modern times as the coronavirus ravaged Main Street and Wall Street. But they are also starting to think the worst might be over.

The consumer confidence index sank this month to 86.9 points from a revised 118.8 in March, a bit worse than economists polled by MarketWatch expected. That’s the lowest level since 2014.

Americans were very pessimistic about what’s happening in the country right now, but they were more hopeful that the economy would begin to recover in the near future, according to the survey produced by the Conference Board.

Even after the latest decline, the index is still well above its all-time low of 25.3 in April.

What happened: An index that measures how Americans feel about the economy right now plummeted to 76.4 from 166.7. That was also a record decline and easily so.

Those who said jobs are “plentiful” slumped to 20% from 43.3% while those who said jobs are “hard to get” rose to 33.6% from 13.8%.

Yet another index that measures future expectations—the next six months—actually improved to 93.8 from 86.8 in March.

Big picture: The U.S. has fallen into what’s likely to be a deep recession, but how long it goes on is far from clear. The timing and intensity of a recovery will depend on how well the viral is contained and future outbreaks are limited.

Most economists believe the economy will need at least a few years to recover.

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