Florida’s consumer sentiment showed a slight increase in December, marking the third consecutive month of growth, amidst mixed feelings about future economic conditions and personal finances
In a sign of cautious optimism, Florida’s consumer sentiment saw a marginal increase in December, marking the third consecutive month of growth, according to a new report published by the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research (BEBR).
Florida’s Consumer Sentiment Index inched up to 69.5, a slight rise from November’s revised figure of 68.3, but falters in comparison to a more robust surge in national consumer sentiment, which climbed by 8.4 points.
Looking at future economic conditions, Floridians expressed mixed feelings, as expectations for personal finances a year ahead saw a notable decline, with pessimism shared across all demographic groups. In contrast, expectations for U.S. economic conditions over the next year and the next five years displayed a positive trajectory.
With an eye toward the future, personal finance sentiments also took a hit, showing a drop in the metric from 85.7 to 81.6 for confidence in the coming year. Meanwhile, personal financial situations compared to a year ago decreased slightly from 57.3 to 56.6, with more favorable opinions noted among men, older individuals, and those earning under $50,000 annually.
“Though consumer sentiment among Floridians ended 2023 on a positive note, the annual average consumer confidence stands at 67.9 points for the year. This marks the third-lowest level on record since the series began tracking consumer confidence in 1985. The lowest on record was 64.3 in 2022, while the second lowest was 65.6 points, dating back to the Great Recession in 2008,” said Hector H. Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF’s BEBR.
Despite increased trepidation towards personal finances, the survey showed an uptick in sentiment on whether it is a good time to buy major household items, improving from 59.1 to 61.0.
The broader economic indicators for Florida at the end of 2023 remain favorable, correlative with a decline in inflation from 6.4 percent in January to 3.1 percent in November, with core inflation moving from 5.6 percent to 4 percent over the same period.
The labor force in Florida surpassed 11 million workers in June and the state reported an unemployment rate of 2.9 percent in November.
“Looking ahead, given the economic outlook, we expect gradual improvements in consumer sentiment among Floridians in the months ahead,” said Sandoval.
The UF study, conducted from November 1 through December 22, involved 592 individuals.