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Florida consumer confidence hits postrecession high

Consumer confidence among Floridians zoomed to a post-recession high in June, to the surprise of University of Florida researchers who conduct the monthly poll.

"We did not expect this jump," said Chris McCarty, director of UF's Survey Research Center in the Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

All five components used to measure confidence rose in the survey released Tuesday, which drove the index up four points to 82.

Among the jumps: The component measuring whether survey takers felt better off financially than a year ago rose four points to its highest level since the end of the Great Recession. Expectations of improved personal finances one year from now increased five points; upbeat expectations about the national economy over the coming year rose seven points while the longer-term outlook for the economy was up two points. There was also a four-point jump in whether now is a good time to buy big household appliances, setting another postrecession high mark.

McCarty said the higher confidence was surprising given a slowdown in housing starts and recent rise in unemployment.

He was especially mystified by a "burst of optimism" among younger and lower-income Floridians given the delay in household formation and paucity of well-paying jobs. That demographic, he pointed out, has been unlikely to benefit from record stock market gains and recent price appreciation in the housing market.

Despite the improvement, McCarty cautioned that an index of 82 five years after the Great Recession indicates fairly muted enthusiasm compared to past economic recoveries.

"Five years after the first two recessions, consumer confidence was at 91 and 93," he said. "Clearly, something is different about this recovery compared to previous recoveries."

The telephone survey is benchmarked to 1966, which means a value of 100 represents the same level of confidence in that year. The index ranges from a low of 2 to a high of 150.

Jeff Harrington can be reached at jharrington@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3434.

Florida consumer confidence hits postrecession high 06/24/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 24, 2014 6:27pm]

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