Florida consumer sentiment in April drops from record high

May 2, 2017
Colleen Porter
BEBR

Consumer sentiment among Floridians in April dropped 3.5 points to 95.7 from a record-high reading of 99.2 in March, according to the latest University of Florida consumer survey.

Despite the ups and downs in the index during the first four months of 2017, consumers are overall more optimistic compared with those same months in 2016.

Among the five components that make up the index, one increased and four decreased.

Perceptions of one’s personal financial situation now compared with a year ago rose 2.2 points, from 88.7 to 90.9. This is the highest reading for this component since February 2005.

Opinions as to whether now is a good time to buy a major household item such as an appliance dropped 1.9 points, from 103.4 to 101.5.

Taken together, these two components represent Floridians’ perceptions about current economic conditions.

“Despite the decrease in one of the two components that address present conditions, current perceptions have remained stable in recent months, reflecting the favorable economic conditions that have prevailed in the state,” said Hector H. Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

The three components that measure expectations of future economic conditions all shifted downward between March and April.

Expectations of personal finances a year from now declined 2.3 points, from 107.5 to 105.2. Anticipated U.S. economic conditions over the next year decreased 6.8 points, from 99.3 to 92.5. Finally, expectations of U.S. economic conditions over the next five years showed the greatest decline, from 96.8 to 88.2, an 8.6 points change.

“Most of the pessimism in this month’s index figure comes from the unfavorable expectations about the future state of the economy. Notably, these perceptions are shared by all Floridians with the sole exception of those with an income level over $50,000,” Sandoval said.

“It is worth noting that those with incomes of $50,000 and over display favorable perceptions in all five components of the index. In particular, they have a very strong positive expectation about their personal financial situation one year from now. This might be a result of the proposed tax reform announced by the federal government, which is expected to slash the tax rates on corporations and high-income individuals,” Sandoval said.

Economic data in Florida continue to be generally positive. In particular, Florida’s labor market continued to expand in March. Over the last year, 246,100 jobs have been added in Florida, a 3 percent increase. The industry sector gaining most jobs was education and health services, followed by professional and business services. There were also increases in the trade, transportation and utilities sector, as well as the construction industry.

A particular bright spot: Florida’s unemployment rate in March dropped two-tenths of a percentage point to 4.8 percent, which is the lowest rate since December 2007, right at the beginning of the Great Recession.

Conducted April 1-27, the UF study reflects the responses of 568 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.

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