A dismal job outlook has eroded Americans' belief that the nation's economy is finally recovering after a three-year slump.

Consumers were expecting the job market, a mainstay of America's economy, to perk up over the next several months. But a new survey from the Conference Board, the private business research group that conducted the survey of 5,000 U.S. households, shows consumer confidence fell well below earlier gains this past summer.

Lynn Franco is director of the Conference Board's research center.

"The labor market is definitely having an impact on consumer spirits," said Lynn Franco. "However, they still remain cautiously optimistic that better times are ahead." Ms. Franco says volatility in the U.S. economy is nothing new to American consumers, and that is why they still believe conditions will improve.

"It is expected until the labor market shows signs of life," she said. "So it is likely we are going to continue to experience ups and downs."

The Conference Board asks Americans of different ages, financial backgrounds and regions of the country, to assess traditional economic indicators, such as business, and employment conditions.

In the September survey, this index of consumer confidence dipped by nearly five points to 76.8, from 81.7 in August.