Consumer sentiment among Floridians in January ticked up another one-half point to 97.8 -- the highest reading since March 2002 -- from December’s record-breaking revised figure of 97.3, according to the latest University of Florida consumer survey.
Florida’s upward trend also tracks the national figures released last week by the University of Michigan, with the national consumer sentiment index at the highest level since February 2004.
Of the five components that make up the Florida index, three increased and two decreased.
Perceptions of one’s personal financial situation now compared with a year ago showed the greatest increase, rising 5.4 points from 82.8 to 88.2. With the exception of those 60 and older, this view is shared by all Floridians.
Opinions as to whether now is a good time to buy a big-ticket household item such as an appliance increased slightly from 101.2 to 102.3.
“Perceptions of current conditions improved among Floridians in the last month as a result of the positive economic picture that prevailed in the state during the last year,” said Hector H. Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research. “Floridians are optimistic about their own finances. The recent surge in the level of confidence comes from perceptions and expectations about Floridians’ individual financial situations.”
Expectations of personal finances a year from now rose 2.5 points, from 103.9 to 106.4. However, views on the future of the national economy were gloomier: Expectations of U.S. economic conditions over the next year dropped 3.3 points, from 99.9 to 96.6, while anticipated U.S. economic conditions over the next five years decreased 2.7 points from 98.5 to 95.8.
Economic data in Florida continue to be generally positive. Although the December unemployment rate in Florida remained at 4.9 percent, the number of jobs added last year statewide was 251,400—a 3.1 percent increase compared with a year ago. The industry sector gaining most jobs was leisure and hospitality, followed by education and health services, then professional and business services.
“There is no doubt that the state’s economy is in better shape than it was several years ago,” Sandoval said. “However, both short- and long-run expectations about the national economic situation are pessimistic, particularly over the next year. These negative expectations are shared by most Floridians but are strongest among those with income under $50,000. These expectations may reflect uncertainty associated with the upcoming economic policy changes by the new U.S. administration. The next few months will be key to understanding these changes and assessing their potential impact on the economy.”
Conducted Jan. 1-26, the UF study reflects the responses of 449 individuals who were reached on cellphones, representing a demographic cross section of Florida.
The index used by UF researchers is benchmarked to 1966, which means a value of 100 represents the same level of confidence for that year. The lowest index possible is a 2, the highest is 150.
Details of this month’s survey can be found at http://www.bebr.ufl.edu/csi-data.