Consumer confidence hit an all-time low in December, dropping unexpectedly in the face of layoffs and deteriorating markets for housing, stocks and other investments.
The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index fell to 38 in December from a revised 44.7 in November, according to an Associated Press report.
The separate Present Situation index, which measures how respondents feel about business conditions and employment prospects, fell to 29.4 in December from 42.3 in November. It is now close to levels last seen after the 1990-1991 recession.
“Deepening job insecurity and falling asset prices are outweighing any optimism consumers may have derived from falling gas prices,” said Dana Saporta, U.S. economist at investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort.
The unemployment rate hit a 15-year high of 6.7% in November and economists expect additional job losses in the first half of 2009.
In the Conference Board survey, those saying jobs are “hard to get” rose to 42% in December from 37.1% in November, while those claiming jobs are “plentiful” decreased to 6.2% from 8.7%.