Friday, May 25, 2018
Business

Florida consumer confidence slips to match an 18-month low

Consumer confidence among Floridians fell again last month to tie with September 2015 for the lowest reading in 18 months, according to a University of Florida survey released Friday.

The trendline, UF researchers said, showed those making less money were increasingly pessimistic compared with those with higher incomes.

Out of five components used in the index, three dropped and two rose.

The steepest decline came in consumers' perception of their personal financial situation compared with a year ago. That fell 3.5 points to 82. The only group of Floridians who felt more confident were those with income above $50,000.

Opinions as to whether now is a good time to buy a big-ticket item such as an automobile went up slightly, but again the perceptions of those with incomes below $50,000 went down.

While perceptions of current economic conditions have deteriorated overall, "this pessimistic sentiment started a month earlier for those with annual incomes under $50,000," said Hector H. Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF's Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

UF said the three-month decline in consumer sentiment runs counter to some positive economic indicators, such as growing economic output and falling unemployment statewide.

Christopher McCarty, director of the Bureau of Economic and Business Research, said there may be further declines over the next few months.

"As the campaigns for U.S. president get in full swing, it's not unusual to see drops in sentiment as consumers hear negative economic opinions and anticipate what each candidate might do," he said.

Last month's one-point drop in confidence put the index at 89. The index is benchmarked to 1966, which means a value of 100 represents the same level of confidence for that year.

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