WASHINGTON (AP) – Americans’ confidence in the economy fell this month to the lowest level since April, as many worried about the impact of a 16-day partial government shutdown. The decline could weigh on spending and economic growth.
The Conference Board said Tuesday that its index of consumer confidence dropped to 71.2 in October, down from 80.2 the previous month. September’s figure was revised slightly higher.
Consumers became particularly pessimistic in their outlook on the economy six months from now, while their assessment of current economic conditions declined by much less. They also expect less hiring in the months ahead. Consumers’ confidence is closely watched because their spending accounts for 70 percent of economic activity.
Americans became more confident in the spring as job gains were healthy and economic growth improved. The Conference Board’s measure reached 82.1 in June, the highest in 5 1/2 years. That’s still below the reading of 90 that is consistent with a healthy economy.
Confidence has dropped in three of the four months since June. The shutdown already caused a drop this month in the University of Michigan’s measure of consumer sentiment. Americans made more negative references to the federal government’s impact on the economy in October than at any time in the 50-year history of the survey, the university said.
Falling confidence can cause Americans to spend less, which would slow the economic growth. But sometimes consumers spend more, even when they say they are less confident.
Weaker job growth is also weighing on consumers’ outlook. Employers added an average of just 143,000 jobs a month from July through September. That’s down from 182,000 a month in April through June and 207,000 in the first three months of the year.
Sluggish spending is likely to weigh on economic growth. Most economists predict growth slowed in the July-September quarter to an annual rate of about 1.5 percent to 2 percent, down from a 2.5 percent rate in the April-June quarter. And the shutdown is likely to keep growth at a tepid pace for the final three months of the year.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- Arizona kids in crisis: How you can help
- 11 holiday classics for the ultimate movie marathon
- 2016 college football rivalry games you simply can't miss
- New treatment offers hope for migraine sufferers
- 11 stadiums to watch your favorite football team
- Shopping for a TV? Best models for 2016
- The new beer pairing guide for holiday foods
- Avoid this holiday plumbing disaster in your home
- 7 tips to avoid holiday weight gain
- New treatments mean better prostate cancer survival rates
- 5 of the scariest things found in drains
- 6 tips to create the best family movie night
- New bone marrow procedure holds promise for healing pain
- The best places to celebrate Fall in Phoenix
- Infamous athletes who did the most time for their crimes
- Diet, exercise and aspirin: 3 tools to fight colon cancer
- 2016 baseball highlights, bloopers and blunders
- See how CFOs really feel about business in the Valley
- The best television shows on the internet
- The 5 worst things you could do for your roof
- 6 coolest things brewing in Arizona
- The virus that keeps head and neck cancers on the rise
- State Fair ‘Kid Reporter’ has all the angles covered
- 4 important things to know about timeshare maintenance fees
- Signs of delayed car crash injuries
- The truth about sports concussions
- The Alzheimer's epidemic: Facts you need to know
- The season is here, keep your Fantasy Football team strong all season
- 8 TV shows you can't miss this fall
- Football is here: 6 tips to make this your best season ever