Consumer confidence plummets to recession levels

On the Conference Board scale, 100 indicates high confidence, as seen in the economy of 1985. 

The index reflects a survey that ended on Oct. 13.

Consumer spending has been a huge driver of the U.S. economy for decades, but has been depressed by high unemployment and a continuing housing crisis. 

"Consumer confidence is now back to levels last seen during the 2008-2009 recession," said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center. "Consumer expectations, which had improved in September, gave back all of the gain and then some, as concerns about business conditions, the labor market and income prospects increased."

In the survey, those claiming business conditions are "bad" increased to 43.7 percent from 40.5.

Those claiming jobs are "plentiful" decreased to 3.4 percent from 5.6 percent.

The lowered confidence derives in large part from short-term expectations that business conditions will not improve in the next six months.

Only 9.1 percent of those surveyed believe conditions will improve, down from 11.8 percent.

“Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead edged down to 11.3 percent from 11.9 percent, while those expecting fewer jobs decreased to 27.4 percent from 28.6 percent,” the board notes in its press release.

Consumer confidence is a major indicator used by the stock market and could be a sign that the U.S. is experiencing a double-dip recession. As fearful consumers cut back on spending and demand dries up, the economy could contract.