The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index fell 23.4 points to an all-time low of 38 in October, a precipitous drop from 61.4 in September.

Among the component indices, the Present Situation Index fell to 41.9 from61.1 last month and the Expectations Index declined to 35.5 from 61.5.

"The decline in the index is the third largest in the history of the series, and the lowest reading on record," said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board's Consumer Research Center. "Consumers are extremely pessimistic, and a significantly larger proportion than last month foresees business and labor market conditions worsening."

Among the 5,000 consumers surveyed, those saying business conditions are "bad" increased to 38.3% from 33.4% , while those claiming business conditions are "good" declined to 9.2% from 12.8%. Those saying jobs are "hard to get" rose to 37.2% from 32.2% in September, while those claiming jobs are "plentiful" decreased to 8.9% from 12.6%. Those expecting business conditions to worsen over the next six months surged to 36.6% from 21.0%; those anticipating conditions to improve fell to 9.9% from 13.4%. The percentage of consumers expecting fewer jobs in the months ahead rose to 41.5% from 26.9%; those anticipating more jobs decreased to 7.4% from 11.9%.The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to increase fell to 10.8% percent from 15.1%.