Consumer Confidence Reaches Record Low

Well, We’d like to tell you consumer confidence is on the rise — goodness, if just for a change in pace — just as we’d like to tell you foreclosures were on the downfall and unemployment claims were rapidly falling, but unfortunately, that’s not the case.  Consumer confidence actually hit a record low in January amid worries over future income, according to the Conference Board’s monthly index reported Tuesday. The proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes declined to 10 percent from 12.7 percent in December. The Consumer Confidence Index eased to 37.7 from December’s 38.6 figure. Consumers’ view of the economy’s overall conditions weakened, with 47.9 percent of respondents saying business conditions are “bad,” up from 45.8 percent in December. “It appears that consumers have begun the new year with the same degree of pessimism that they exhibited in the final months of 2008,” said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center. “Looking ahead, consumers remain quite pessimistic about the state of the economy and about their earnings.” Consumers’ short-term outlook also remained negative, the report said, although those expecting business conditions to worsen over the next six months decreased slightly to 31.1 percent from 32.9 percent. And those anticipating conditions to improve remained relatively unchanged at 13.3 percent in January, compared to 13.4 percent in December. This suggests, as Franco mentioned in the report, that economic conditions did not deteriorate significantly further in January, but they surely didn’t improve either. There’s no doubt the new year got off to an inauspicious start for american workers, with major companies such as GM, Pfizer, Home Depot and Sprint announcing massive job cuts, leaving the job outlook somewhat “mixed,” the Board said — but not all doom and gloom. The percentage of consumers expecting fewer jobs in the months ahead decreased to 36.7 percent from 40.6 percent, while those expecting more jobs, on the other hand, edged from 9.8 percent down to 9.4 percent. Consumers’ view on inflation over the next 12 months improved, with respondents looking for a rate of 5.6 percent, compared to 5.8 percent reported in the prior month. The percentage of respondents with plans to buy a home fell to 2.5 percent from 2.6 percent. Write to Kelly Curran at

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