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Consumer confidence at four-year low (The Irish Times)

04 November 2011

Consumer confidence in the economy has plunged to a four-year low as worries about the outlook for jobs, the housing market and soaring oil prices intensified last month.

As the Central Statistics Office (CSO) published figures showing another increase in the number of people claiming unemployment benefits in October, the consumer sentiment index for last month, compiled by IIB Bank and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), slipped to its lowest level since October 2003.

Fewer than one in 10 consumers have a positive view of the economic outlook for the next 12 months, according to ESRI economist David Duffy.

Layoffs announced during the period included those at Intel and Tyco, but there were also a spate of significant job creation plans at Mellon Bank and Dunnes Stores, as well as significant increases in employment at Rigney Dolphin, Enfer, ParkAcademy, Nortel and Postbank.

The overall consumer sentiment index reading of 71.8 was also dragged down because fewer consumers said they would buy big ticket items such as white goods and furniture in October.

Although consumers were gloomy about the economic climate, outlook and state of their personal finances, they were more optimistic about their expectations for their household finances for the next 12 months.

The number of people on the live register is at a three-year high. The Government estimates that the unemployment rate will rise to 5.5 per cent next year, largely as a result of job losses in the housing sector.