Four in 10 people think their job prospects have worsened over the past year, according to new research.
Just 14% of consumers polled by Lloyds TSB said employment opportunities have improved over the past 12 months, while almost three times as many (40%) believe they have got worse.
The -26% balance (those reporting an increase minus those reporting a decrease) is worse than it was a month ago, when the figure stood at -23%.
The Lloyds Consumer Barometer found that the key driver behind this gloomy assessment was that consumers are increasingly pessimistic about inflation and interest rates.
More than three-quarters (76%) of consumers believe interest rates will be higher in 12 months’ time, while just 5% believe they will be lower.
Trevor Williams, chief economist at Lloyds TSB Corporate Markets, said consumers’ inflation expectations were one of the reasons why the Bank of England addressed raised interest rates in August.
“Its aim is to help keep wage demands under control by keeping inflation low,” he said. “But although the Monetary Policy Committee kept rates on hold in September, consumers are increasingly convinced they will rise again, and this is hitting confidence in the job market.
“This response is somewhat unexpected – employment gains have been strong and economic growth has quickened – and it suggests the rate rise in August may have confirmed earlier fears and played a key role in this month’s worse results,” he said.