Consumer sentiment hits nine-month low

Consumer sentiment hit a nine-month low in August over continued concerns about stagnant wages and the overall direction of the economy. 

The University of Michigan/Thomson Reuters consumer sentiment index fell unexpectedly to 79.2 this month, the lowest level since November, from July’s 81.8, according to preliminary data released Friday.

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While there are plenty of signs that economic growth is accelerating, consumers remain wary that rising prices will outpace their wages. 

Those concerns have been stoked by recent Labor Department data tha shows average weekly earnings falling 0.2 percent in the past year.

Despite solid jobs growth in the past six months, consumers are using their wallets to reflect their frustration by holding back spending.

Earlier this week, the Commerce Department reported a six-month low in retail sales.

Meanwhile, employers added 209,000 jobs in July and they posted 4.67 million job openings in June, the highest number since February 2001, the Labor Department recently reported. 

In the past year, job openings have increased 17.6 percent and hiring has picked up pace during the same period, surging 9.3 percent.

Some sectors, such as manufacturing, have said that there is a skills gap between what employers need and what job seekers can offer.

Views on the direction of the economy six months from now also dimmed in August, falling to 66.2 from 71.8 in July, the worst showing since October.

Still, even amid all the concern, a gauge of consumers’ views on current conditions increased to 99.6, the highest level since before the recession started in 2007, from 97.4 in July.