For the second month in a row, U.S. employee confidence fell to its lowest level in nearly two years, as Hurricanes Katrina (search) and Rita and high gas prices took a toll on personal finances, a survey from Hudson Highland Group Inc. (search) (HHGP) showed on Wednesday.

The survey, which polled about 9,000 workers, put its September employee confidence index (search) at 96.8, its lowest level since the survey began in January 2004, and down from its previous all-time low of 98.2 in August. The employee confidence index fell 10 points from a year earlier.

Forty-seven percent of workers said their financial situation is getting worse, signaling that they expect high energy costs to continue through the winter months.

The survey also showed that high energy costs may be affecting much more than employees wallets, as the level of hiring optimism also fell.

Of workers polled, only 29 percent said they expected their companies to hire in the coming months, down from an average 31 percent who had said that for the last ten months.