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Floridians' confidence in their own finances hits record low, UF survey shows

A growing number of Floridians are feeling glum about where their bank accounts are headed.

In fact, expectations about personal finances a year from now sank to a record low in the monthly consumer confidence survey released Tuesday by the University of Florida.

Overall consumer confidence statewide for July continued to retract, falling 2 points to 65, the lowest level in 16 months. But the survey component tracking personal finances stuck out, falling 4 points to 72.

Chris McCarty, director of UF's Survey Research Center in the Bureau of Economic and Business Research, said personal finance expectations have never been so low since the state began tracking consumer sentiment in February 1985.

McCarty blames the Deepwater Horizon oil spill for dampening spirits when there were signs the economy was improving.

Florida's unemployment rate has fallen three months in a row since hitting a record 12.3 percent. Large corporate layoffs have stopped. Housing prices may decline further, but they've been relatively stable for more than a year.

Uncertainty abounds because of the environmental and economic tragedy in the gulf.

"Floridians do not anticipate a good outcome to the spill's effect on the Florida economy," McCarty said, comparing the spill's potential threat to the financial meltdown in fall 2008 when Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae fell into conservatorship.

"Anecdotal evidence suggests that future reports of taxable sales will show a decline, attributable both to declines in tourism and caution on the part of Florida consumers, who are uncertain about the effect of the spill's aftermath on their future finances," he added.

Separately, the Conference Board reported Tuesday that national consumer confidence also fell in July to its lowest level since February. The index fell to 50.4 compared with an upwardly revised 54.3 in June.

"Consumers continue to grow increasingly more pessimistic about the short-term outlook," said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center. "Concerns about business conditions and the labor market are casting a dark cloud over consumers that is not likely to lift until the job market improves."

Floridians' confidence in their own finances hits record low, UF survey shows 07/27/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 2:38pm]
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