The present conditions index slumped from 166.7, to 76.4, an unprecedented 90-point drop. The expectations index, based on the future outlook, improved slightly from 86.8 in March to 93.8 in April.
The numbers in the present conditions index “reflects the sharp contraction in economic activity and surge in unemployment claims,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board.
Kathy Bostjancic, chief U.S. financial economist at Oxford Economics, said the confidence declines were worrisome because “consumers’ downbeat views about future income prospects can restrain consumer spending and the overall economy.”
Consumers drive about 70% of all economic activity in the U.S.
Many economists believe the country has already entered a recession that will be the largest economic disruption since the Great Depression of the 1930s.