Consumer confidence hasn’t been this low since 1982, according to the Reuters/University of Michigan index, which reported a slide to 63.2 from March’s 69.5. That was lower than even the lowest estimates in a Bloomberg analyst poll. “The consumer’s feeling increasingly hemmed in,” said one economist. “The economy is in a recession.”
The usual host of economic ills was depressing consumers, including high energy and food prices. One standout issue was employment; 80,000 jobs were lost in March, the most in five years. Oil prices, meanwhile, averaged $105.42 a barrel, a $10-per-barrel jump from the month before. Nor are consumers optimistic about a turnaround: the expectations index fell to 53.4, its lowest reading since 1990.