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Consumer Confidence Continues to Slip

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New York City The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had decreased in December, inched lower in January and continues to be at a historic low. The Index now stands at 37.7 (1985=100), down from 38.6 in December. The Present Situation Index declined slightly to 29.9 from 30.2 last month. The Expectations Index decreased moderately to 43.0 from 44.2.

Lynn Franco, director of  The Conference Board Consumer Research Center said, "The Consumer Confidence Index continues to hover at all-time lows (Index began in 1967) and it appears that consumers have begun the New Year with the same degree of pessimism that they exhibited in the final months of 2008. The minor change in the Present Situation Index suggests that economic conditions did not deteriorate significantly further in January but, on the other hand, they did not improve either."

Consumers' assessment of overall current conditions remains pessimistic. Those saying business conditions are "bad" increased to 47.9% from 45.8%, while those saying business conditions are "good" declined to 6.4% from 7.7% last month.

Consumers' assessment of the labor market, however, was slightly more positive. Those claiming jobs are "hard to get" edged down to 41.1% from 41.5% in December, while those stating jobs are "plentiful" edged up to 7.2% from 6.5%.

Consumers' short-term outlook remains quite pessimistic. Those expecting business conditions to worsen over the next six months decreased slightly to 31.1% from 32.9%, while those anticipating conditions to improve remained relatively unchanged at 13.3% in January, compared to 13.4% in December. 

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