Confidence among U.S. consumers plunged in August to the lowest level since May 1980, adding to concern that weak employment gains and volatility in the stock market will prompt households to retrench.
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment slumped to 54.9 from 63.7 the prior month. The gauge was projected to decline to 62, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey.
The biggest one-week slump in stocks since 2008 and the threat of default on the nation’s debt may have exacerbated consumers’ concerns as unemployment hovers above 9 percent and companies are hesitant to hire. Rising pessimism poses a risk household spending will cool further, hindering a recovery that Federal Reserve policy makers said this week was already advancing “considerably slower” than projected.
“The mood is very depressed,” said Chris Christopher, an economist at IHS Global Insight Inc. in Lexington, Massachusetts. “Consumers are very fatigued and very uncertain. In the short term, people are going to pull back on spending.”
Could consumer confidence be low because of policies like this?
The economic stimulus, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, provided $2.4 billion in grants to advanced vehicle batteries technology. From that amount, $300 million in grants went to Johnson Controls to manufacture batteries.
According to the White House, thus far the firm has added 150 jobs because of the grant. That means the government spent about $2 million per job, but only if no more jobs are added.