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Consumer Confidence Hits Record Non-Recession Low: Survey

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Maybe this time is different.

In the latest indicator of an unusually weak recovery, the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index hit an all-time non-recession low in September, according to figures released Wednesday.

The index also comes close to lows seen during the recession in 2008 and 2009, which, with consumer spending accounting for roughly 70 percent of the economy, signals the recovery could remain weak for some time.

Compared to even recessions themselves, the current mood of Americans is historically low, remaining well below the average of the past five recessions combined, going back to 1980, according to Advisor Perspectives.

The decline may be blamed on increases in "concerns about business conditions, the labor market and income prospects," Director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center Lynn Franco said in a press release.

Indeed, declining consumer confidence would seem to be closely intertwined with a stubbornly high unemployment rate, unable to fall below nine percent, and the drop in national median income, now falling faster during the recovery than it did in recession.

Overall, while the number of American millionaires continues to rise, a fifth of the country is having trouble putting food on the table, a recent Gallup poll finds.

That consumer confidence dipped so much is the surprise, not that it dipped at all. One month before, the same survey found sentiment dropped to its lowest level in two years. And the Conference Board's findings could be conservative: Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's preliminary survey this month found consumer confidence to be at its lowest level in more than 30 years.

Likewise, Americans are now more pessimistic about their finances than they've been in a decade, according to a recent Gallup poll. And this month Gallup also found that its Basic Needs Index was on par with lows seen in the spring of 2009.

The nation's so-called "Misery Index," an indicator combining inflation and unemployment, recently reached its highest level in almost 30 years.

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