Consumer Sentiment Index Hits 20-Month Low

Our corporate cousins at Consumer Reports have released their monthly index of overall consumer sentiment, and it looks like all the worrying about the debt ceiling has caused the sharpest month-to-month drop in the index in two years and the lowest result since December 2009.

The Consumer Reports Index, which is comprised of five indices — the Sentiment Index, the Trouble Tracker Index, the Stress Index, the Retail Index, and the Employment Index — fell to 43.4, down from 48.5 only a month earlier.

The Trouble Tracker Index, a gauge of the breadth and depth of financial difficulties among American households, jumped 10 points to 60.6 in August while the Employment Index fell to its lowest level since March 2010 and slid sharply, as more jobs were lost than created.

“The debt ceiling debate in Washington focused the consumer’s attention fully on the dire state of the economy, leaving many in a dispirited mood,” said Ed Farrell, director of the Consumer Reports National Research Center. “Americans are facing real financial difficulties due to weak employment, which is a key impediment to an economic recovery. This is reflected in nearly every measure of the consumer’s experience.”

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CR Index: Consumer sentiment at lowest level since late ’09 [Consumer Reports]