We all know optimism is back in stocks. Markets are happy. Money managers are happy. Bankers at Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) are really happy.

But what about average Billy Joes and Bobbie Sues? After rebounding sharply, overall consumer confidence is back in decline:

Month

Consumer Confidence

October

47.67

September

53.43

August

54.48

July

47.37

June

49.32

May

54.81

April

40.81

March

26.90

February

25.30

Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's.

October's 10% decline took some off guard -- average estimates were for the reading to come in about flat. One or two months doesn't a trend make, and we should also point out that today's reading is nearly double the trough levels of earlier this year.

But you'll notice that confidence has gone pretty much nowhere since June. During that time, the S&P 500 has surged 15%, the Dow broke through 10,000, companies like Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) and American Express (NYSE:AXP) jumped more than 50%, and the S&P Case-Shiller home price index even rose four months in a row. That, you'd think, would be a pretty strong confidence boost, as families watch their crushed net worths crawl back.

So to get a better understanding of why consumer confidence is stalling, we have to dig a little deeper into respondents' specific answers:

Section

October

September

Percent Anticipating Improving Business Conditions in Next Six Months

20.8%

21.3%

Percent Anticipating Worsening Business Conditions in Next Six Months

18.3%

14.6%

Percent Expecting More Jobs in the Months Ahead

16.3%

18.0%

Percent Expecting Fewer Jobs in the Months Ahead

26.6%

22.9%

Percent Expecting Increase in Income

10.3%

11.2%

Source: Conference Board.

Jobs, jobs, jobs. Who cares if equity markets are rising? People are expecting fewer jobs, and fewer of those with jobs are expecting raises. That isn't the recipe for anything good.

Huge recoveries have taken place in financial markets that saved banks like Citigroup (NYSE:C) and Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) from going kablooey. Yet even though the worst may be behind us in terms of financial meltdown, unemployment is still getting worse, and bound to stay that way for a while. That's enough to keep people more than a little worried.

What do you think? How confident do you feel about your economic future? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Fool contributor Morgan Housel doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. American Express is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. The Fool has a disclosure policy.