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Consumer Confidence Up Among Floridians

Floridians' confidence in the economy increased this month, with respondents to a monthly University of Florida survey expressing particular optimism about what things will be like a year from now.

The monthly index of consumer confidence in the state by the University of Florida Bureau of Economic and Business Research was up three points from July to August to an overall index of 70.

The biggest jump in optimism was in respondents' perceptions of how the national economic picture will shape out over the next year. Perceptions of the how strong the country's economic conditions will be over the next year rose ten points. Perceptions of personal finances a year from now rose five points in the survey.

The only area where Floridians were more pessimistic about the economy in August than in July was in their opinion on whether or not now is a good time to buy a big ticket item. That measure fell five points to 72.

“We had anticipated an increase in consumer confidence in August based on what appeared to be an unjustifiably large drop in July,” said survey director Chris McCarty. “While the economic environment is by no means bright, the decline in July seemed unsustainable given the lack of any very bad economic news and some encouraging signs in Florida’s housing market and the stock market.

“We are not out of this recession yet, particularly here in Florida, but things are not nearly as bad as they were a year ago,” McCarty added.

McCarty said he expects that consumer confidence will likely remain relatively low – in the 60s or 70s – even as the national economy starts to improve.

The 70 score on consumer confidence is the highest its been since April, when it spiked up to 72. And it's far higher than the readings in the low 60s that the survey was finding last fall. It reached a low of 62 in November of 2008.

Not everyone who answered the survey was as confident as the average respondent. Those who said their income was under $30,000 were the most pessimistic, with a consumer confidence rating overall of 66. Those with higher incomes were generally more optimistic, and women were the most optimistic group overall, with a survey score of 73.

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