The buying-climate measure fell to minus 38.3 from minus 36.9 as fewer respondents said that now is the time to make purchases. The reading for personal finances declined to minus 2, the worst since April, from minus 0.1.
Sentiment is waning as the job market shows signs of cooling. Employers added 148,000 workers to payrolls in September, fewer than the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg, Labor Department figures showed this week. The unemployment rate fell 0.1 percentage point to 7.2%, the lowest since November 2008.
The number of Americans filing applications for jobless benefits fell by 12,000 to 350,000 in the week ended Oct. 19, the Labor Department said in Washington. Claims reached a six- month high of 373,000 in the week ended Oct. 5 as the 16-day partial shutdown of federal agencies was in its first week.
A backlog in California after the state switched computer systems and applications from non-federal workers furloughed because of the shutdown have kept the count elevated, according to the Labor Department.
The median estimate of 48 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for 340,000 claims. Forecasts ranged from 320,000 to 365,000.
Another Labor Department report today showed job openings increased in August to the highest level in three months. The number of positions waiting to be filled climbed by 75,000 to 3.88 million from 3.81 million in the prior month. The pace of hiring was little changed, indicating employers were taking time to fill the vacancies.
“We’ve seen a slowing in hiring, which is more reflective of the weak pace of growth we’ve seen,” said Bricklin Dwyer, an economist at BNP Paribas in New York. “While we’re not likely to see a big firing wave on the back of this government shutdown, it probably will keep some people from hiring.”