NEW YORK -- As many bankers and economists had been resigned to expect, the Conference Board's index of consumer confidence continued its slide this month.
The reading of consumer attitudes and expectations, indexed to 100 in 1985, was 58.0 for August, down from a revised 61.2 in July.
"Confidence is now lower than it has been since March," the business research organization said. "In the August survey, consumers [were] more negative than in the preceding month, both in their assessment of prevailing economic conditions and in their expectations for the immediate period ahead."
"Although the loss in consumer confidence in August was relatively moderate, the continued sag in the consumer's spirits is disconcerting," said Fabian Linden, executive director of the Conference Board's consumer research center.
"Since June, the measure of confidence has fallen by some 20%," he added.
Readings at the current levels have "historically been associated with a lackluster economy." He said the outlook remains dim.
Peaked in June
After failing as slow as 47.3 earlier this year in February, the index climbed as high as 72.6 in June.
"The promise of a business recovery, which was suggested by the markedly improved confidence readings recorded in the spring, has all but withered away," Mr. Linden. "There now appears to be scant likelihood of any significant quickening in the pace of economic growth in the immediate months ahead," he said.
That conclusion also likely applies to consumer credit demand and credit card volume.
Employment and Income
The Conference Board's national survey of 5,000 households showed that in August 10% believed that business conditions were good, but well over four times as many said they were bad.
Only 5.5% said jobs were plentiful. More than eight times as many said jobs were hard to get.
Those findings were weaker than a month earlier.
"The general level of consumers' uneasiness is further indicated in apprehension concerning their family's income," the Conference Board said.
One of every eight respondents was worried that his earnings would fall over the next six months, the largest proportion since February.