Consumer confidence drops in the Bay State, Mass Insight says

A confidence index for Massachusetts consumers dropped sharply in January as people fretted about jobs and stagnant incomes, said Mass Insight, a Boston-based consulting and research firm.

The index, which uses a 200-point scale, posted a reading of 82 in January, down 9 points from its previous reading of 91, which was taken in October.

A year ago, the index’s January reading was 84, the firm said.

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“The people of The Commonwealth, like the rest of the nation, seem to be accepting a new normal in their economic outlook,” William H. Guenther, the chairman and chief executive of Mass Insight, said in a statement. “The ongoing uncertainty about the availability of jobs coupled with stagnant income levels continues to unsettle Massachusetts residents.”

The index’s latest reading was based on 450 telephone interviews with Massachusetts adults.

Mass Insight has taken consumer confidence readings every three months for the past two decades.

The index hit a high of 136 in January 2000 and a low of 38 in January 2009.