Consumer confidence, which had been on the rise since April, fell sharply in August, private research group The Conference Board reported today.

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index now stands at 98.2 (1985=100), down from 105.7 in July. The survey is based on a sample of 5,000 U.S. households.

Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center, attributed the decline in confidence to the slowdown in job growth.

“Until the job market and pace of hiring picks up, this cautious attitude will prevail,” Franco said.

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions also was less upbeat than last month. Those saying business conditions are “good” declined to 23.2 percent from 25.2 percent. Those claiming conditions are “bad” rose to 20.1 percent from 19.1 percent. Consumers saying jobs are “plentiful” decreased to 18.1 percent from 19.7 percent, and those claiming jobs are “hard to get” was nearly unchanged at 25.8 percent, compared to 25.7 percent in July.

Consumers have lowered expectations for the next six months. Those anticipating conditions to worsen increased to 8.8 percent from 7.1 percent. Those expecting business conditions to improve declined to 20.1 percent from 23 percent last month.

The employment outlook for the next six months was also less favorable. Consumers expecting fewer jobs increased to 15.4 percent from 13.5 percent. Those anticipating more jobs to become available fell to 16.2 percent from 19.5 percent. Consumers expecting their incomes to improve in the months ahead rose to 19.3 percent from 18 percent last month.

The Conference Board’s expectations index dropped to 96.6 in August from 105.3 in July. The Present Situation Index fell to 100.7 from 106.4.

***

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