The Conference Board uses cookies to improve our website, enhance your experience, and deliver relevant messages and offers about our products. Detailed information on the use of cookies on this site is provided in our cookie policy. For more information on how The Conference Board collects and uses personal data, please visit our privacy policy. By continuing to use this Site or by clicking "OK", you consent to the use of cookies. 

The Conference Board publishes leading, coincident, and lagging indexes designed to signal peaks and troughs in the business cycle for major economies around the world.

US Leading Economic Index® (LEI) Fell Again in May

Latest Press Release

Updated: Friday, June 21, 2024

Using the Composite Indexes: The Leading Economic Index (LEI) provides an early indication of significant turning points in the business cycle and where the economy is heading in the near term. The Coincident Economic Index (CEI) provides an indication of the current state of the economy. Additional details are below.


The Conference Board Leading Economic Index® (LEI) for the U.S. decreased by 0.5 percent in May 2024 to 101.2 (2016=100), following a 0.6 percent decline in April. Over the six-month period between November 2023 and May 2024, the LEI fell by 2.0 percent—a smaller decrease than its 3.4 percent contraction over the previous six months.

“The U.S. LEI fell again in May, driven primarily by a decline in new orders, weak consumer sentiment about future business conditions, and lower building permits,” said Justyna Zabinska-La Monica, Senior Manager, Business Cycle Indicators, at The Conference Board. “While the Index’s six-month growth rate remained firmly negative, the LEI doesn’t currently signal a recession. We project real GDP growth will slow further to under 1 percent (annualized) over Q2 and Q3 2024, as elevated inflation and high interest rates continue to weigh on consumer spending.”

The Conference Board Coincident Economic Index® (CEI) for the U.S. rose by 0.4 percent in May 2024 to 112.4 (2016=100), after increasing by 0.1 percent in April. The CEI grew 0.6 percent over the six-month period ending May 2024, down from its 1.0 percent increase over the previous six months. The CEI’s component indicators—payroll employment, personal income less transfer payments, manufacturing and trade sales, and industrial production—are included among the data used to determine recessions in the US. All four components of the index improved last month, with industrial production making the largest positive contribution to the Index.

The Conference Board Lagging Economic Index® (LAG) for the U.S. inched down by 0.1 percent in May 2024 to 119.4 (2016=100), after increasing by 0.3 percent in April. As a result, the LAG’s six-month growth rate softened to 0.7 percent between November 2023 and May 2024, down from 0.8 percent over the previous six months.

The LEI’s year-over-year growth remained negative but continued trending upward

May’s decline in the LEI was led by new orders, consumer sentiment, and building permits

NOTE: Starting with the September 2023 release, Leading Credit Index™ calculations (from 2020 to current) use the SOFR Overnight Financing Rate in the USD Swap spread semiannual 2 year instead of LIBOR rate. LIBOR remains in the USD Swap spread semiannual 2 year from 1990 to 2020.

The LEI did not signal a recession in May as its six-month growth rate trended less negative

NOTE: The chart illustrates the so-called 3Dsduration, depth, and diffusion—for interpreting a downward movement in the LEI. Duration refers to how long the decline has lasted. Depth denotes the size of decline. Duration and depth are measured by the rate of change of the index over the most recent six months. Diffusion is a measure of how widespread the decline is among the LEI’s component indicators—on a scale of 0 to 100, a diffusion index reading below 50 indicates most components are weakening.

The 3Ds rule signals an impending recession when: 1) the diffusion index lies below 50, shown by the black warning signal lines in the chart; and 2) the LEI’s six-month rate of decline falls below the threshold of −4.4 percent. The red recession signal lines indicate months when both criteria are met simultaneously—and thus that a recession is likely imminent or underway.

Summary Table of Composite Economic Indexes

About The Conference Board Leading Economic Index® (LEI) and Coincident Economic Index® (CEI) for the U.S.
The composite economic indexes are key elements in an analytic system designed to signal peaks and troughs in the business cycle. Comprised of multiple independent indicators, the indexes are constructed to summarize and reveal common turning points in the economy in a clearer and more convincing manner than any individual component.

The CEI reflects current economic conditions and is highly correlated with real GDP. The LEI is a predictive tool that anticipates—or “leads”—turning points in the business cycle by around seven months.

The ten components of the Leading Economic Index® for the U.S. are:

  • Average weekly hours in manufacturing
  • Average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance
  • Manufacturers’ new orders for consumer goods and materials
  • ISM® Index of New Orders
  • Manufacturers’ new orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft orders
  • Building permits for new private housing units
  • S&P 500® Index of Stock Prices
  • Leading Credit Index
  • Interest rate spread (10-year Treasury bonds less federal funds rate)
  • Average consumer expectations for business conditions

The four components of the Coincident Economic Index® for the U.S. are:

  • Payroll employment
  • Personal income less transfer payments
  • Manufacturing and trade sales
  • Industrial production

To access data, please visit:

About The Conference Board

The Conference Board is the member-driven think tank that delivers Trusted Insights for What’s Ahead™. Founded in 1916, we are a non-partisan, not-for-profit entity holding 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status in the United States.

The next release is scheduled for Thursday, July 18th at 10 A.M. ET

For further information contact:

Jonathan Liu at +732.991.1754

Joseph DiBlasi at +781.308.7935

Methodology & Technical Notes

Related Content

Connect and be informed about this topic through webcasts, virtual events and conferences

Press Releases / In the News

Data central

Subscribe to Access Data Central & Chart Reports

Your centralized, one-stop portal for accessing and exporting The Conference Board global suite of monthly and quarterly economic data. Get up to speed on critical trends—anytime, anywhere—with customizable real-time datasets.

Economic Indicator Calendar

All release times displayed are Eastern Time

Global Economic Indicators

Learn more Yellow and white frame illustration

Explore More on this Topic


Webcasts, Podcasts and Videos

Economy Watch

December 11, 2024 11:00 AM ET (New York)

The Evolving Economic Outlook for Europe

July 10, 2024 11:00 AM ET (New York)

Inflation, Labor Markets, and the Fed

May 11, 2022 11:00 AM ET (New York)