Consumer confidence fell for the second week in a row as Americans continue to face record-breaking gas prices at the pump, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News Consumer Comfort survey.
The overall index of consumer sentiment now stands at -17, down four points from last week and 10 points in the past month. Ratings were last in this territory in the summer of 2004, following another late winter and spring surge in gas prices.
People with more precarious holds on financial stability led the decline in confidence during the past two weeks, with particularly large drops among those living in lower-income households, renters and those without full-time jobs.
The survey asks respondents to rate the condition of the national economy, the state of their personal finances and whether now is a good time to buy things. All three were down roughly four percentage points compared to two weeks ago. Currently about a third of Americans rate the economy positively, while two thirds rate it negatively, the most downbeat assessment thus far this year.
Across its 19-year history the index has averaged -9, ranging from a high of 38 in Jan. 2000 to a low of -50 in Feb. 1992.
The Post-ABC Consumer Comfort Index is a rolling average based on telephone interviews with 1,000 randomly selected adults over the previous four-week period. The latest index is based on interviews conducted through April 3. Margin of sampling error for the results of individual questions is plus or minus three percentage points.