Make us your home page

Florida consumer confidence up slightly, but widespread economic funk persists

Capping the oil spill in the gulf gave a boost to Florida consumer confidence this month, pushing it up slightly to the highest level since May, a University of Florida survey shows.

But survey organizers were quick to note that confidence levels remain sluggish, and far lower than a year ago, as double-digit unemployment and a slow housing market continue to weigh on Floridians.

"This is by no means a return to a state of optimism," said Chris McCarty, director of UF's Survey Research Center in the Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

Indeed, two other reports released Tuesday indicate widespread queasiness over the lingering effects of the oil spill and the tenuous economic recovery:

• The national consumer confidence index fell to the lowest point since February, the New York-based Conference Board reported. The index, which would indicate a healthy economy at a level of 90, fell to 48.5 in September, down from 53.2 in August. Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters were expecting 52.5.

"Overall, consumers' confidence in the state of the economy remains quite grim," Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board's consumer research center, said in a statement. "And, with so few expecting conditions to improve in the near term, the pace of economic growth is not likely to pick up in the coming months."

• A Gallup survey of almost 2,600 Gulf Coast residents showed that depression cases are up more than 25 percent since the BP explosion and oil spill in the gulf five months ago.

A "well-being index" in the Gallup study concluded that many coastal residents were stressed out, worried and sad at a higher level than inland residents. The survey, which ended in August, was conducted over eight months before and after the spill in 25 counties from Texas to Florida.

BP has provided $52  million for mental health care in the gulf region.

On the upside, fears are easing that the economy will slip into a double-dip recession. New unemployment claims have fallen as corporate profits have strengthened. Meanwhile, stock prices have not only avoided a September swoon so far, but also are on track to put the Dow Jones Industrial Average even for the year.

The Florida consumer confidence index report, which rose two points to 68, also had glimmers of hope.

All five of the components that make up the index were up for the month. The biggest jump came in expectations of U.S. economic conditions over the next year, which rose four points. The next biggest gain came in whether consumers consider this a good time to buy big-ticket items, which rose two points.

"It seems increasingly less likely that we will fall into another recession," McCarty said. "However, there are still a number of drags on the economy, and we should expect confidence to oscillate between the upper 60s and lower 70s at least through the end of the year."

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Florida consumer confidence up slightly, but widespread economic funk persists 09/28/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 28, 2010 10:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. One of the best places for investing in a rental house is in Tampa Bay

    Real Estate

    Two Tampa Bay ZIP Codes are drawing national attention.

    . If you're looking to invest in a house to rent out, few places are better than  ZIP Code 34607 in Hernando County's Spring Hill area, according to ATTOM Data Solutions.
 file photo]

  2. Tampa Chamber of Commerce announces small business winners


    TAMPA — The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce selected the winners of the 2017 Small Business of the Year Awards at a ceremony Wednesday night at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. More than 600 attendees celebrated the accomplishments of Tampa Bay's small business community.

    Vincent Cassidy, president and CEO of Majesty Title Services, was named Outstanding Small Business Leader of the Year by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.

  3. International array of artists chosen as finalists for pier project

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — A diverse group of six artists will compete for a chance to install their work at the city's multimillion-dollar Pier District, expected to open in early 2019.

  4. Gourmet food fight between top chefs raises $200,000


    ST. PETERSBURG — The chefs came armed with their secret ingredients — pork rinds, truffle butter, pork bellies.

    (From left to right) Chefs Ryan Mitchell, Michael Buttacavoli, Ted Dorsey and Matthew Brennan compete during Tampa Bay Food Fight at The Coliseum in St. Petersburg on Tuesday. The event features chefs from the Tampa Bay area and benefitted Metropolitan Ministries. EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times
  5. HSN star Joy Mangano promotes new book: Inventing Joy


    ST. PETERSBURG — After more than 30 years, Joy Mangano knows a thing or two about promoting products. Now she's promoting herself.

    Inventor and entrepreneur Joy Mangano is releasing her first new book, Inventing Joy on Nov. 7. [TIERRA SMITH | Times]