The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index for the month of September retreated after edging up in August, slipping to 48.5 from 53.2. The Present Situation Index fell, to 23.1 from 24.9, as did the Expectations Index, down to 65.4 from 72. An index score of 100 or higher represents a high level of consumer confidence. Historically, a reading more than 90 indicates consumers are providing meaningful support to an overall strong economic environment. Assessment of current conditions, especially with regard to the job market, by those polled brought in more negative results. Those saying that conditions are "bad" increased to 46.1% from 42.3%. Additionally, 8.1% reported they think conditions are "good," down from 8.4%. The percentage of survey takers that claimed jobs are "hard to get" rose to 46.1% (up from 45.5%) while those saying "jobs are plentiful" decreased to 3.8% from 4%. Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, attributes the drop in consumer confidence to a growing pessimism about the short-term outlook. "Overall, consumers' confidence in the state of the economy remains quite grim," Franco said. "And, with so few expecting conditions to improve in the near term, the pace of economic growth is not likely to pick up in the coming month." In September, the percentage of consumers expecting an improvement in business conditions over the next six months decreased to 14.9% from 16.9%. Those anticipating that conditions of the economy will worsen over the same time period rose to 16.4% from 13.4%. The survey polls a population sample of 5,000 U.S. households and measures the degree of optimism they as consumers feel about the overall state of the economy and their personal financial situation. Write to Christine Ricciardi.