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No Lifting of Consumer Pessimissim


Consumers began 2009 as they ended the 2008—pessimistic about the future of the economy and hunkering down for hard times.

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had fallen in December, "inched lower in Janurary and continues to be at a historic low," The Conference Board said.

The consumer's mood as measured by the Reuters/University of Michigan Survey of Consumers, "continued to hover near its half century low, showing no signs of significant change during the last six months," according to a Reuters/University of Michigan press release.

"Nearly all consumers anticiate the deepest and longest recession in the post WWII era, but few consumers now expect the economy to sing into a 1930's style depression," said Richard Curtin, director of the surveys organization.

Consumers reported a market basket of economic troubles—job losses, declining work hours, smaller income gains, falling home values and evaporating saving and retirement accounts.

Unemployment is a chief consumer concern. The Conference Board Employment Trends Index also fell in January, 1% from December and 18.6% from a year ago. The Index recently has been falling faster than at any time since the 1974 recession, said Gad Levanon, senior economist at The Conference Board.

"Such declines suggest considerable job losses will persist for several more months," he added, as worsening economic conditions force many companies to trim their workforce.

News of steep job losses were reported by a record number of respondents in the January Reuters/University of Michigan survey. Consumers expect the economy to remain weak and for the jobless rate to rise to nearly 9% nationally by year end.

Click here for a PDF of the Reuters/University of Michigan press release.