CHICAGO — The housing market and stocks may be looking up, but Americans just can’t shake their job worries.
In a sign that talk of an economic recovery has yet to soothe a recession-battered nation, consumer confidence fell in October and came in well below what analysts were expecting.
For stores, the report is reason to worry that holiday sales might be even worse than they feared.
In a separate reading, the Conference Board reported shoppers’ sentiments about the state of the economy are the gloomiest in nearly three decades. Americans reported they plan to cut back on spending, in large part because they don’t trust the job market.
The unemployment rate is just under 10 percent, and economists say it could hit 10.5 percent next year.
The board’s index of consumer confidence fell to 47.7 in October from 53.4 in September. Economists were expecting only a small decline, to 53.1. It takes a reading of 90 to indicate an economy on solid footing, 100 or more to indicate growth.
Nearly half the 5,000 households surveyed by the board said jobs were hard to come by, and about one in four said they expected fewer available jobs in the coming months.
There have been signs of recovery: Corporate earnings are getting stronger, the stock market has regained much of its lost ground and figures due out Thursday are expected to show the recession officially ended in June or July.
There was another indication the housing market is stabilizing. The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller price index showed home prices in August climbed for the third consecutive month.