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Florida consumer confidence falls in March in contrast to nation

Florida's consumer confidence tumbled again in March, even as consumers nationally appear more optimistic an economic recovery is taking hold.

The monthly University of Florida survey released Tuesday found confidence falling three points to 70. Meanwhile, a Conference Board survey also out Tuesday indicated that consumer confidence nationally rebounded in March.

Last week, a separate measure of national confidence, the Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index, was flat for March.

Chris McCarty, survey director of UF's Bureau of Economic and Business Research, said he wasn't surprised to see a "disconnect" between Florida and the rest of the country.

"The decline in optimism is almost certainly related to persistent elevated levels of unemployment in Florida and the perception that jobs are neither secure nor widely available," McCarty said. "This was along the lines of what I expected to see."

He noted that nationally, unemployment has been flat for two months at 9.7 percent, indicating "obviously somebody is getting jobs" in other states. In contrast, Florida's rising unemployment rate has not shown signs of leveling off.

UF's telephone survey was taken before Friday's release of a report showing Florida's unemployment rate had risen to 12.2 percent in January, the highest level since the state began tracking the data in 1970.

Florida's consumer confidence has been fluctuating between the upper 60s and low 70s for much of the past year.

Florida consumer confidence falls in March in contrast to nation 03/30/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 30, 2010 9:58pm]
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