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RISMEDIA, September 30, 2009—(MCT)—The U.S. consumer confidence index fell in September as Americans grew more concerned about the economy, their job prospects and their incomes, the Conference Board recently reported. 

The consumer confidence index fell to 53.1 in September from 54.5 in August, reversing part of August’s nearly seven-point gain. “Consumers remain quite apprehensive about the short-term outlook and their incomes,” said Lynn Franco, head of the consumer research group at the private research organization. “With the holiday season quickly approaching, this is not very encouraging news.” 

Economists surveyed by MarketWatch were expecting the index to rise to 57, based on higher stock prices, lower gas prices and fewer layoffs. Other indicators of consumer attitudes had improved in late September, including the University of Michigan survey and the Rasmussen consumer index. The Conference Board index bottomed at an all-time low 25.3 in February. 

In the Conference Board’s survey of 5,000 households, the present situation index fell to 22.7 from 25.4 in July. It’s the lowest level since it hit a 26-year low in March. The proportion saying business was bad increased to 46.3% from 44.6%, while the number saying conditions are good also rose slightly, to 8.7%. The number saying jobs are hard to get rose to 47% from 44.3%, while the percentage saying jobs are plentiful fell to 3.4% from 4.3%. The expectations index dropped to 73.3 from 73.8 in July. Only 21.3% of those surveyed expect the economy to improve in the next six months. Inflation expectations faded, with consumers anticipating consumer prices will rise 5.2% over the next six months, down from 5.4% in August and the lowest in at least a year. 

(c) 2009, MarketWatch.com Inc.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. 

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