Consumer confidence fell in October for the third straight month as Americans grew even more pessimistic about the state of the economy, The Conference Board reported today.

The Consumer Confidence Index, based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households, dropped to 95.6 this month from 99.5 in September, and hasn’t been this low since October 2005 when it registered 85.2.

“Consumer confidence posted its third monthly decline and continues to hover at two-year lows,” Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, said in a statement. “Further weakening in business conditions has, yet again, tempered consumers’ assessment of current-day conditions and may very well be a prelude to lackluster job growth in the months ahead. In addition, consumers are growing more pessimistic about the short-term future, and their rather bleak outlook suggests a less-than-stellar ending to this year.”

According to The Conference Board, the percentage of consumers surveyed in October who claimed present conditions are “good” sank to 23.4 percent from 25.7 a month ago, although the percentage saying conditions are “bad” eased to 16.3 percent from 17.8 percent.

Overall, consumers were less upbeat in their appraisal of the job market, as 22.6 percent of those surveyed said jobs are “hard to get,” up from 22.4 percent in September. Those claiming jobs are “plentiful” in October decreased to 24.1 percent from 25.6 percent a month earlier.

The outlook for the next six months eroded further in October, as 13.8 percent of consumers expect business conditions to worsen through April 2008, up from 11.9 percent last month, and those anticipating business conditions to improve declined to 13.7 percent from 15.7 percent.

The percent of consumers expecting more jobs in the months ahead was virtually unchanged in October at 13.5 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs increased to 20.1 percent from 18.7 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to increase in the months ahead declined moderately to 19.6 percent from 20 percent.

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