Jobs Fears Rattle US Consumer Confidence

02 October 2003

US consumer sentiment plunged last month as the jobs market showed little sign of improvement.

The closely watched confidence index compiled by the Conference Board tumbled from August's 81.7 to 76.8 in September. Hardest hit was the barometer of consumers' future expectations which slumped from 94.9 to 88.4. The index of attitudes towards the current climate slipped from 62.0 to 59.5.

"The lack of improvement in labor market conditions continues to dampen consumers' spirits," declared Lynn Franco, director of the Board’s Consumer Research Center. "Despite September's retreat, consumers remain cautiously optimistic about the outlook for the next six months. Consumer spending is likely to continue at or near current levels."

The downbeat confidence data coincided with evidence that manufacturing growth slowed sharply last month. The purchasing managers index for the vital Midwest region fell from 58.9 in August to 51.2, only marginally above the 50.0 threshold between expansion and contraction.

Data sourced from: multiple sources; additional content by WARC staff