Consumer confidence in the U.S. fell more than forecast in February as Americans grew more pessimistic about the outlook for the economy and employment.

Bloomberg reported that the Conference Board’s index decreased to 78.1 from a revised 79.4 in January that was weaker than initially estimated, the New York-based private research group reported today (Feb. 25). The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a reading of 80.

The share of Americans who said business conditions would improve in the next six months declined to a four-month low. Bigger gains in payrolls and wages would help the economy recover from colder temperatures and snowstorms that weighed on growth at the start of the year.

“The biggest thing that’ll help is if income growth was accelerating, which means you’d need a stronger labor market and more jobs being created,” Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Pierpont Securities LLC in Stamford, Connecticut, said before the report. “On both counts we’ve had some progress, but certainly not enough to make people enthusiastic about their prospects.”

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