The consumer confidence index rose to 83.8 in May from 81.0 in April, the Conference Board, a private business research group, said in a release.
Economists on average had expected the index to rise to 84.9. Consumer confidence is closely watched by economists and businesses for clues about consumer spending, which makes up two-thirds of the U.S. economy.
"Labor market conditions continue to be of concern, but consumers anticipate a turnaround in the coming months. ...The post-war euphoria experienced last month has quickly given way and consumers' focus has returned to matters on the home front," said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board's Consumer Research Center.
The present situation Index, a measure of consumers' current attitudes about the economy and their finances, fell to 67.9 from 75.2 in April. The expectations index, a gauge of consumers' six-month outlook, rose to 94.4 from 84.8.