Saturday, December 16, 2017
Business

Consumer confidence in Florida jumps in May

Maybe the rest of the country should visit Florida for an injection of optimism.

Americans' confidence in the economy in May posted its biggest drop in eight months as consumers fretted about slow hiring, a big stock market drop and the global economy, according to the Conference Board's monthly index released Tuesday.

The national consumer confidence index fell to 64.9, down from a revised 68.7 in April. It was the biggest drop since October 2011 and far below the reading of 70 expected based on a FactSet poll of analysts.

Among Floridians, however, consumer confidence made an unexpected jump in May, a University of Florida survey found.

Overall, consumer confidence rose three points in the month to 77, reversing a three-month decline and putting the index nine points higher than the year-ago level.

Chris McCarty, survey director within UF's Bureau of Economic and Business Research, called the state's turnaround welcome but also strange given "the potential fiscal cliff" looming. Among the pressing economic issues he cited: expiring tax cuts that could result in higher taxes for most households; the threat of mandated automated cuts in domestic and military spending; and another congressional battle over raising the debt ceiling.

One likely cause for renewed optimism is the falling price of gas. In Florida, gas prices have dropped almost 33 cents a gallon over the past month to $3.47 a gallon. Also aiding optimism: Florida's unemployment rate has steadily fallen for more than a year, reaching a three-year low of 8.7 percent in April.

McCarty said the rise in confidence was particularly strong among those under age 60 and those with household incomes above $30,000.

Three of the five index components used in the study showed rising confidence. The biggest single jump, an eight-point surge, came in expectations among respondents that their personal financial situation would improve in the coming year.

Consumer confidence is closely tracked because consumer spending fuels about 70 percent of economic activity.

UF's monthly telephone survey is benchmarked to 100, 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. So the current index, though up strongly from a year ago, is still relatively weak.

The national index is likewise well below a reading of 90 that would indicate a healthy economy, but it's above the range in the 40s from last fall.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Comments
Taxpayer subsidies of Tampa golf courses are on the rise as struggles continue

Taxpayer subsidies of Tampa golf courses are on the rise as struggles continue

TAMPA — For the half of the year that Harry Nichols lives in Oldsmar, he plays 18 holes several times a month at Rocky Point Golf Course. On a good day, Nichols said he shoots close to par on the Dana Shores course. And if he’s really lucky, it’ll on...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Fueled by indulgence and machismo, restaurants are a hotbed for sexual harassment

Fueled by indulgence and machismo, restaurants are a hotbed for sexual harassment

When Brenda Terry was 16 and living in St. Louis, she was a hostess and food runner at a sports bar where female employees wore cute, little cheerleading skirts. One night, she said, a patron grabbed her crotch. She ran to her management team and the...
Published: 12/15/17
Pigs can be therapy animals too. So can horses and rats and cats and llamas and … (w/video)

Pigs can be therapy animals too. So can horses and rats and cats and llamas and … (w/video)

Shrieks of laughter echoed off the walls of the hospital as Thunder the mini pig flopped onto his side and the children huddled around him, scratching his pink, hairy belly. He and his wet-nosed partner, Bolt, drew patients in wheelchairs and bandage...
Published: 12/15/17
Vology landlord challenges property tax assessment

Vology landlord challenges property tax assessment

LARGO — Eight months after paying $10.15 million for the office building that houses IT services company Vology, a New York company is suing the Pinellas County Property Appraiser and Florida Department of Revenue contending its $5.5 million tax asse...
Published: 12/15/17
Florida’s $1.1 billion Hardest Hit Fund winding down after some hard knocks

Florida’s $1.1 billion Hardest Hit Fund winding down after some hard knocks

In 2010, Florida was in the throes of an unprecedented housing crisis. One in every eight homes was in some stage of foreclosure. Today, the foreclosure rate is one in every 83. Because of that enormous drop, Florida’s Hardest Hit Fund will s...
Published: 12/15/17
Report: Rich will get still richer unless policies change

Report: Rich will get still richer unless policies change

By ELAINE KURTENBACHTOKYO — Global inequality has stabilized at high levels in recent years, a report said Friday, despite gains among the poor in China and much milder disparities in incomes and wealth in Western Europe. The World Inequality Report ...
Published: 12/15/17
How the Disney/Fox deal will shake up Hollywood

How the Disney/Fox deal will shake up Hollywood

Associated Press NEW YORK — After years of tremors, the earthquake that had long been predicted finally shook Hollywood. Disney’s deal to purchase most of 21st Century Fox ends the era of the "Big Six" major movie studios, toppling one ...
Published: 12/15/17
St. Petersburg’s Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement set to be complete in 2019

St. Petersburg’s Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement set to be complete in 2019

ST. PETERSBURG — The Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement, under construction since 2015, is scheduled to be complete by the summer of 2019.The five-story, 137,100-square-foot building will house businessman and collector Rudy Ciccarello’s...
Published: 12/15/17
Obamacare enrollment ends today, but some can get an extension

Obamacare enrollment ends today, but some can get an extension

Today is the day that open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act will close for most people. But those affected by the slew of hurricanes that pummelled Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico and other states earlier this year can take advantage of a two-week ...
Published: 12/15/17
Pack your bags: 107.3M Americans to set holiday traveling record

Pack your bags: 107.3M Americans to set holiday traveling record

A record-breaking number of Americans are expected to travel this holiday season.The American Automobile Association projects that 107.3 million Americans will pack their bags and travel more than 50 miles by planes, trains, automobiles and other mod...
Published: 12/14/17