Report: U.S. consumer confidence hits near-record low

New York City -- A report released Thursday by Bloomberg said that consumer confidence in the United States slumped last week to the second-lowest level on record.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index dropped to minus 53 in the period ended Sept. 25 from minus 52.1 the prior week. Similar readings were reached three times in the first half of 2009 and surpassed only by all-time lows of minus 54 plumbed in November 2008 and again in January 2009.

The vast majority -- 93% -- of survey respondents had a negative opinion of the economy as companies remain reluctant to hire and wages fail to keep pace with inflation. The slowdown in the housing market and a decline in stock prices this year have taken a toll on household wealth, helping explain why Americans as limiting their spending.

“The discontent among the public across demographic and income groups strongly suggests that the problems in the labor market are extracting a powerful toll,” said Joseph Brusuelas, a senior economist at Bloomberg LP in New York City. “The flat labor market and decline in real earnings will likely erode plans to spend heading into the critical holiday shopping season.”

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