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The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's final May reading on the index was 90.7. It was down from the previous month's reading of 95.9, but beat Reuters estimates for 89.9.
The decline in optimism, although more narrow in May, about the economy was widespread among all age and income groups across the country.
"Although the loss in confidence narrowed in late May, the decline for the month as a whole was still substantial as consumers have adopted more modest prospects for a rebound following the economy's dismal 1st quarter performance," said Surveys of Consumers Chief Economist Richard Curtin in a statement.
Despite the decline in May, the first five months of the year averaged 94.6. The last time the average level was higher was in 2004, when the index read 95.2.
"Overall, the latest data are still consistent with a 3 percent annual growth rate in real personal consumption expenditures during 2015," Curtin said.
The gauge of current economic conditions fell to 100.8 from 107 in the previous month.
Consumer expectations index also fell to 84.2 from 88.8 in April.
Correction: This article has been corrected to reflect that the index ticked lower in May.