NEW YORK–The economy received another jolt of bad news this morning, as consumer confidence in March plunged to its lowest level since March 2003, when the United States invaded Iraq. Prior to that date, the lowest level was in October 1993.
The Conference Board reported this morning that the much-watched index, a bellwether of consumer buying behavior and therefore the economy in general, fell nearly 11 points, as consumers felt that the present situation was bleaker than it had been six months ago, and that their expectations for the near future were much reduced.
The index is based on a monthly survey of 5,000 households.
Lynn Franco, who directs consumer research for the Board, said in a statement that the “decline in the present situation index implies that the pace of growth in recent months has weakened even further. Looking ahead, consumers’ outlook for business conditions, the job market and their income prospects is quite pessimistic and suggests further weakening may be on the horizon. The Expectations Index, in fact, is now at a 35-year low (December 1973, 45.2), levels not seen since the Oil Embargo and Watergate.”