Florida consumer confidence shaky in the short term

More Floridians are finding hope by taking the long view these days.

They're increasingly optimistic about the end of the recession and their own economic recovery a year from now. But short term, perception of their personal finances has dropped near an all-time low.

That dichotomy was reflected in the latest consumer confidence survey released Tuesday by the University of Florida.

Overall, the state's consumer confidence index dropped 1 point in May to 71. But there were big swings in different components making up the index.

Perceptions of personal finances compared with a year ago fell four points to 40, one point above its all-time low record of 39 in December. Expectations of personal finances a year from now rose 5 points to 90, the highest level since October 2007.

"Floridians are saying they don't have the money now to buy, but they expect to within a year," said Chris McCarty, director of UF's Survey Research Center at the Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

Of the remaining index components, perceptions of the U.S. economy over the next year rose 4 points to 73, while perceptions of U.S. economic conditions over the next five years fell 4 points to 78. Perceptions of whether it is a good time to buy big-ticket consumer items fell 6 points to 72.

McCarty interprets the data as indicating that many expect the federal stimulus dollars to help the economy improve over the next year, but "they are beginning to question (the economy's) long-term viability."

Jeff Harrington can be reached at (727) 893-8242 or jharrington@sptimes.com.

Unlike Florida, the national rebound in consumer confidence is going full-bore.

Consumer confidence in May soared to the highest level since September as more shoppers are feeling that the worst of the recession is behind them.

The Conference Board said its Consumer Confidence Index, which had significantly increased in April, zoomed past economists' expectations to 54.9 from a revised 40.8 in April. Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters were expecting 42.3. In February, confidence levels hit a historic low of 25.3.

The reading is the highest since eight months ago, when it was 61.4. The levels are also closer to the 58.1 of a year ago, though the widely watched barometer is still well below 100, which indicates a healthy economy.

Times wires

Florida consumer confidence shaky in the short term 05/26/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 26, 2009 7:20pm]

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