Consumer confidence dips in US, strengthens abroad

The index of consumer confidence has dipped in three of the past four months, the Conference Board reported Tuesday.

Reed Saxon/AP/File
Sale signs adorned Urban Outfitters in Santa Monica, Calif., last month. Consumer confidence has dipped, the Conference Board reported Tuesday.

American consumers were supposed to catch a break this year. Being the first into recession, they were supposed to be among the first to come out.

But it's not turning out that way. While consumers abroad are shaking off the gloom of the deepest recession since World War II, US consumers are having second thoughts about the strength of the recovery. These doubts could delay America's economic rebound.

Consumer confidence fell 1.4 points from August to hit 53.1 in September, according to a Conference Board report released Tuesday. Dipping for the third time in four months, the index seems unable to climb above 54.8, the high for the year set in May.

That's in stark contrast to consumers' outlook in other major economies. In Europe's eurozone, consumer confidence in August reached its highest level in a year, the European Commission reported Tuesday.

In Japan, consumer confidence in August has risen for the eighth straight month and stands at its highest level since October 2007.

Brazil's index is near the mark set a year ago and suggests moderate optimism among consumers.

In the US, the deteriorating labor situation has made consumers more pessimistic, the Conference Board said. Nearly half of those surveyed – 47 percent – said jobs are "hard to get," up from 44.3 percent in August,

"The deterioration in labor market conditions may be connected with scaled back plans for seasonal hiring by retailers, as well as accelerated layoffs by state and local governments," said Brian Bethune, an economist at IHS Global Insight, in a release.
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