Florida consumers appear to be slightly more confident in the economy

by | May 1, 2018

For the first time in three months Floridians appear to be slightly more optimistic by the condition of the economy. The University of Florida’s Economic Analysis Program released the latest consumer sentiment ratings showing the confidence in the economy among Floridians increased six-tenths of a point in April to 98.1 from a revised figure of 97.5 in March.

“Overall, Floridians are slightly more optimistic,” said Hector H. Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program. “The gain in April’s confidence came from the perceptions and expectations regarding Floridians’ personal financial situation. These numbers increased for women as well as those aged 60 and older,”  

The consumer sentiment index is based on five components. In April, the index saw an increase in three of those components, while the other two decreased.

The biggest increase came in consumers’ perceptions of personal financial situations now compared with those from a year ago. Those increased  5.5 points from 91 to 96.5. Consumers who thought now is a good time to buy a major household item increased 3.1 points from 101.1 to 104.2.

“Increases in these two components show that opinions regarding the current economic condition improved among Floridians in April,” Sandoval said.

Another component of the index, expectations of personal financial situations a year from now went up 3.2 points from 105.9 to 109.1.

The two areas dealing with the outlook of the national economy saw decreases.  Expectations of U.S. economic conditions over the next year plummeted 6 points from 96.4 to 90.4, the greatest decline in this month’s reading. Meanwhile, expectations of U.S. economic conditions over the next five years decreased 2.9 points from 93.3 to 90.4

“Despite the large decline in short- and long-run confidence in the national economy, opinions are split among the population by age. Those under age 60 have strong negative expectations, while those aged 60 and older hold positive opinions,” Sandoval said.

Overall, Sandoval says economic indicators in Florida continue to be positive. The labor market in Florida remains strong, continuing to add more jobs added on a monthly basis. Since the start of 2017 labor force participation reached 10 million. With the exception of December 2017, participation has increased every month. Sandoval says regardless of increased participation, the unemployment rate has remained unchanged at 3.9 percent for the past seven months.

In March, 173,100 jobs were added statewide, a 2 percent increase compared with a year ago, and  personal income in Florida increased 3.8 percent on average in 2017, compared with 3.1 percent for the nation.

“Overall, consumer confidence is increasing, but expectations of future economic conditions may predict a significant change in this trend,” Sandoval said.

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