The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index for California rose for the fifth time in sixth months in April. Since Donald Trump’s surprise White House win, this index — for a state he lost badly — is up 29 percent.
For April, Californians told Conference Board pollsters that present economic conditions slipped a bit. Statewide job growth has slowed after five years of significant improvement. Still, the current climate measure is up 33 percent in six months. And Californians’ expectations for the economy rose in April, part of a 25 percent jump since the election.
Retail sales fell a seasonally adjusted 0.2% last month, the Commerce Department said Friday, after a revised 0.3% decline in February. But over the last 12 months, retail sales have risen 5.2%, a sign that that the economy remains on stable footing.
Still, there are indications that consumers are growing more cautious even though the unemployment rate declined in March to a low 4.5%. Steady job growth as the recovery from the Great Recession nears its eighth year and a bump in consumer sentiment following President Trump's presidential election have yet to strengthen spending much.
Since the start of 2017, Americans have actually cut back on purchases at auto dealers and restaurants and bars, two major sources of sales gains in prior years. Sales dipped 1.5% last month at auto dealers and 0.6% at restaurants and bars. It was the second straight monthly drop in sales for both categories.