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Florida consumer confidence sees August upswing

Consumer confidence levels in Florida finally got the bounce-back that economists had been waiting for.

The state's consumer confidence index rose 3 points to 70 this month, reports a University of Florida survey released Tuesday. The uptick comes after confidence numbers dropped 2 points in June and July. Nationally, consumer sentiment also rose, with expectations at the highest since the recession began.

"While the economic environment is by no means bright, the decline in July seemed unsustainable given the lack of any very bad economic news and some encouraging signs in Florida's housing market and the stock market," said Chris McCarty, survey director of UF's Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

The August upswing was most pronounced in confidence that the economy will improve over the next year and beyond.

• Perceptions of U.S. economic conditions over the next year jumped 10 points to 73.

• Perceptions of U.S. economic conditions over the next five years rose 8 points to 80.

• Perceptions of personal finances a year from now increased 5 points to 84.

Consumers were more wary about the current state of affairs. The index that measures perceptions of personal finances now compared with a year ago was unchanged at 43, just 4 points above its all-time low. And there was a 5-point drop in perceptions of whether it's a good time to buy big-ticket items.

McCarty said rising unemployment, now at 10.7 percent in Florida, will continue to make any recovery a sluggish one.

"We are not out of this recession yet, particularly here in Florida, but things are not nearly as bad as they were a year ago," he said.

UF's monthly telephone survey, based on 425 responses for August, is benchmarked to 1966, so a value of 100 represents the same level of confidence for that year.

Florida consumer confidence sees August upswing 08/25/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 25, 2009 9:03pm]
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