Consumer confidence is at a two-year low, according to the monthly Consumer Confidence Index released today by the Conference Board.
After a slight rebound in September, the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index now stands at 39.8, down from 46.4 in September. Data measuring present conditions decreased for the sixth consecutive month from 33.3 to 26.3, an 11-month low. Consumer expectations for the next six months likewise declined from 55.1 to 48.7, the lowest level since March 2009.
These dark clouds contain scant silver lining. Those describing business conditions as "bad" increased to 43.7 percent from 40.5 percent last month, while those claiming business conditions are "good" decreased to 11.0 percent from 12.1 percent. The labor market fared no better in consumers’ assessments. Those claiming jobs are "plentiful" decreased to 3.4 percent from 5.6. Those who said jobs are "hard to get," however, dropped to 47.1 percent from 49.4 percent.
Consumers' short-term outlook, which had improved last month, took a U-turn in October. Fewer expect business conditions to improve over the next six months. This reading slumped from 11.8 percent to 9.1 percent. Those expecting business conditions to worsen edged down to 21.5 percent from 21.9 percent.
Consumers' outlook for the job market was slightly more pessimistic in October. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead sagged from 11.9 percent to11.3 percent, while those expecting fewer jobs decreased to 27.4 percent from 28.6 percent. The proportion of consumers anticipating an increase in their incomes declined to 10.3 percent from 13.5 percent.
Concerns about business conditions, the sluggish labor market and income prospects drove down the Index, Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center, said in a statement.
Improving the economy is like the weather: Everyone talks about it, but no one seems to be doing anything. Taxing millionaires, which part of President Obama's debt reduction plan, is favored by more than two-thirds of investors surveyed this month by Millionaire Corner. There is less enthusiam for a proposal to raise taxes on those with more than $250,000 in income (47.8 percent).
Reducing America's dependence on foreign oil by developing reserves in Alaska is favored by 62.3 percent, followed by improving the country's infrastructure in hopes it would create jobs. Nearly 61 percent are thinking green and looking to increase investment and research into renewable energy and alternative fuel sources. Just over half (51.8 percent) would reduce the debt by cutting social programs.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.