Consumer Comfort in U.S. Declines to Lowest Level in Seven Weeks

  • Sentiment about economy suffers biggest drop since February
  • Confidence among full-time workers at its lowest in 11 months

Consumer confidence declined to a seven-week low as Americans’ views of the U.S. economy sank by the most since February.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell to 41.1 in the period ended Nov. 1 from 42.8 the week prior. After advancing to a six-month high on Oct. 11, the gauge has retreated 4.1 points, the largest three-week decrease since August 2013. The measure is a point shy of this year’s low, reached in June.

The index has given back almost all of its advance from mid-September as consumers’ opinions about the economy, buying climate and their finances waxed and waned. At the same time, the strongest back-to-back months of auto sales in 15 years show households are still spending.

“It’s been a decidedly up-and-down year for consumer sentiment, marking the difficult-to-define condition of the economy overall,” said Gary Langer, president of New York-based Langer Research Associates LLC, which conducts the survey for Bloomberg.

Americans’ views of the economy worsened by the most since February, with the measure falling 2.9 points to 31.9. In mid-October, the gauge reached its highest point since early May.

Buying Climate

The buying-climate index, which measures whether consumers think it is a good time to purchase goods and services, eased to 35.8 from 36.1. The measure has dropped 3.8 points over the last four weeks, erasing most of its advance from mid-September through the second week of October. 

Including a decline in the personal finances gauge, to 55.8 from 57.6, all three sub-indexes are below their averages for the year.

Views of the labor market deteriorated last week, the report showed. Confidence among full-time workers dropped to its lowest level in 11 months. Attitudes of part-time employees have taken a step back as well after climbing in mid-October to the highest level since 2007, while those looking for work were less upbeat last week.

Attitudes were mixed across income brackets. Sentiment held steady among households making below $15,000 as cheaper gasoline allows lower-income Americans to stretch their paychecks. Those making between $75,000 and $100,000 were the most pessimistic since October of last year. 

Regionally, sentiment declined in three of four regions, with Midwesterners registering the only increase.

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