Consumer sentiment among Floridians fell in March marking the second month in a row the index has recorded a decrease. That’s according to the University of Florida Survey Research Center’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research
The index fell 1.2 points in March to 97.1 out of a possible 150. That’s down from a revised figure of 98.3 in February.
“Most of the pessimism in March comes from the expectations about future economic conditions, particularly of those aged 60 and older,” said Hector H. Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF.
Of the five categories used to compile the index, three decreased while the the other two increased. The three components represent expectations about future economic conditions.
Expectations of where people expect their personal finances to be a year from now declined eight-tenths of a point (105.9 to 105.1). Expectations of U.S. economic conditions over the next year decreased 2.7 points (98.4 to 95.7). Finally, expectations of U.S. economic conditions over the next five years showed the biggest drop at 4.4 points (97.3 to 92.9).
“The proposed trade tariffs announced by the president in March may be one of the reasons behind these negative expectations about future economic conditions,” Sandoval said. “Another influence may be the thought that at some point a recession will reoccur. The length of time since the last recession could be on people’s minds and influencing their economic opinions,””
The two components of the index that showed gains in March were perceptions of personal financial situations now compared with a year ago. That category increased slightly by five-tenths of a point (90.8 to 91.3). Opinions as to whether this is a good time to buy a major household item increased 1.8 points (98.9 to 100.7). Both of these components represent opinions regarding the current economic conditions among Floridians.
The index points out that despite pessimism among Floridians, economic activity expanded in Florida, and the unemployment rate in Florida remained unchanged at 3.9 percent in February. The number of jobs added statewide was 167,800 over last year, an increase of 2.0 percent.
“The Florida economy keeps growing, and the labor market conditions continue to show a positive economic outlook with more jobs added every month; however, expectations of future economic conditions might indicate that Floridians are anticipating, sooner or later, a change in this trend,” Sandoval added.
The study was conducted March 1-29 and reflects the responses of 394 individuals who were reached on cellphones, representing a demographic cross section of Florida.