A key measure of consumer confidence fell again in April, to a five-year low, leading the director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center to note that "the glass remains half empty."

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households, now stands at 62.3, down from 65.9 in March. (1985=100 in the index.) This is the lowest level since March 2003, according to published reports, and the index has declined for four months in a row.

Consumer sentiment is important to the economy, because consumer spending makes up between two-thirds and three-fourths of our country's Gross Domestic Product.

"This continued weakening suggests that not only has the feeble level of growth in the first quarter spilled over into the second quarter, but that economic conditions may have slowed even further," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. "Not only are lackluster business and job conditions eroding confidence, but rising gasoline prices are undoubtedly heightening concerns. Consumers' inflation expectations continue to rise, and this measure now matches the all-time high reached in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina."

Looking ahead, Franco said, consumers' outlook for the economy, the job market and their income prospects remains "quite pessimistic."