Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Business

Florida consumer confidence rises to a pre-recession high

What recession?

Florida consumer confidence has inched back up to the highest level since April 2007, before both the Great Recession struck and the Mild Recovery began.

The index, which is measured monthly through a University of Florida survey, rose in September to 83.

"This is a welcome development given that consumer sentiment has been flat for the last few months," said Chris McCarty, director of UF's Survey Research Center. "While we are still about 10 points behind where we would like to be at this point in a recovery, confidence among Floridians is heading in the right direction."

The mood in Florida appears to be lagging national consumer confidence levels, which had hit a near seven-year high just a month ago. Nationally, consumer confidence fell sharply in September, however, to a reading of 86 the Conference Board reported Tuesday. The Conference Board attributed the first drop in five months to soured short-term expectations about the labor market and stagnant payrolls.

Florida's survey is drawn from consumer opinions in five areas.

There was little movement in indicators that gauge personal financial expectations and faith in the national economy. The biggest jump: consumer perceptions about whether now is a good time to buy a big-ticket item like a refrigerator shot up four points to 98.

The index is benchmarked to 1966, which means a value of 100 represents the same level of confidence as in that year. The score can range from a low of 2 to a high of 150.

McCarty didn't hold out much hope that the incremental rise in confidence will last for long. The likelihood of a Federal Reserve rate increase could lead to at least a temporary stock market correction and slowdown in housing sales and construction, he noted.

Once the timing of the rate increase is apparent, "We can expect at least a temporary decline in our consumer sentiment index in Florida," McCarty predicted,

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