Thursday, February 22, 2018
Business

Florida consumer confidence still heading up

Bring on the sequestration and higher payroll taxes. Toss in slower economic growth. None of that is denting the optimism of most Floridians.

The University of Florida reported Tuesday that the state's consumer confidence index rose three points in April, the second consecutive monthly increase, reaching its highest point this year.

A national survey by the New York-based Conference Board also released Tuesday showed consumer confidence unexpectedly up in April, rebounding from a drop-off in March. The Conference Board's index climbed to 68.1, exceeding the highest estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists.

Chris McCarty, survey director within the University of Florida's Bureau of Economic and Business Research, said most economists would have expected confidence in the economy to be eroding as Americans face steeper taxes and federal budget cuts.

Nevertheless, those surveyed statewide were dramatically more optimistic, not just about their current finances but also expectations that they will be better off financially a year from now. Their trust in the current economy also rose three points.

The Florida index stood at 79 in April, a level of modest optimism but far better than late 2008 when it was hovering in the 50s. The economic barometer is benchmarked to 1966, which means a value of 100 indicates the same level of confidence for that year. The lowest possible index is 2; the highest is 150.

There were a few notable distinctions in the latest data, with younger and wealthier consumers more likely to be confident.

Confidence among Floridians making less than $30,000 a year fell by six points, but it rose four points for those earning more than $30,000. Similarly, confidence surged 10 points for those under 60 while falling three points among those age 60 and older.

McCarty cited a few reasons consumers may be feeling more financially fit: median housing prices statewide have risen to a 4 1/2-year high of $160,000; the stock market has been breaking records; and unemployment continues to drop, reaching 7.5 percent last month.

But any exuberance could be short-lived.

Many economists, McCarty pointed out, are still waiting for the effects of sequestration to ripple through the country, a process that could take months to unfold.

Comments
Administrator Haley Loeun fired from CareerSource jobs centers

Administrator Haley Loeun fired from CareerSource jobs centers

Haley Loeun, a top aide to the embattled leader of the Pinellas and Hillsborough jobs boards, was fired Thursday from her $130,000-a-year position as business services director.Loeun came under criticism after the Tampa Bay Times reported that employ...
Updated: 3 minutes ago
Outback Steakhouse owner Bloomin’ Brands beats Wall Street forecasts

Outback Steakhouse owner Bloomin’ Brands beats Wall Street forecasts

TAMPA — Outback Steakhouse has been pressured to improve for awhile, but the restaurant chain isn’t cooked yet. In fact, a boost in Outback sales led its Tampa-based parent company to beat Wall Street expectations in its fourth quarter.Bloomin’ Brand...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Tampa Bay area’s population projected to grow to 3.1 million this year

Tampa Bay area’s population projected to grow to 3.1 million this year

TAMPA — The Tampa Bay area’s population, already the largest of any metropolitan area in the state, is projected to grow from 3 million last year to 3.1 million this year, and to 3.3 million over the next five years.That growth is expected to bring c...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Work finally starts on downtown St. Petersburg’s newest hotel

Work finally starts on downtown St. Petersburg’s newest hotel

ST. PETERSBURG — Nearly a decade after it was first proposed, a new boutique hotel in downtown St. Petersburg is finally under construction.Workers are preparing the foundation of the Galaxy, an 11-story, 92-room hotel at Third Avenue N and First Str...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Note to readers: About those annoying popups on your phones

Note to readers: About those annoying popups on your phones

Dear readers, I hope that you are able to see this and that a popup saying you’ve won a gift card hasn’t taken over your phone. We have heard from many of you that these popups are preventing you from reading our news coverage.We hate them as much as...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Saving trees a passion for some St. Petersburg neighborhood leaders

Saving trees a passion for some St. Petersburg neighborhood leaders

ST. PETERSBURGBeth Connor, a longtime neighborhood environmental advocate, is alarmed at what she views as the destruction of the city’s trees in the name of development.She points to at least three properties that have been scraped of trees in recen...
Published: 02/22/18
This week food fests celebrate collard greens and Jewish foods

This week food fests celebrate collard greens and Jewish foods

FIELD OF GREEN: COLLARD FESTOn Saturday you can devote your whole day to the beauty of collard greens. Well, that’s the jumping off point. Collards are the "central ingredient" at the Tampa Bay Collard Green Festival at St. Petersburg’s Historic Deuc...
Updated: 10 hours ago
CareerSource jobs chief Edward Peachey could soon be out of work

CareerSource jobs chief Edward Peachey could soon be out of work

CLEARWATER — The heads of the Pinellas and Hillsborough jobs boards will hold emergency meetings in the coming days to consider firing president and CEO Edward Peachey. Jack Geller, board chairman of CareerSource Pinellas, and Dick Peck, chair...
Published: 02/21/18
Updated: 02/22/18
Hillsborough commissioners ask CareerSource chief to step down or be fired

Hillsborough commissioners ask CareerSource chief to step down or be fired

TAMPA –– Hillsborough County commissioners voted Wednesday to ask embattled jobs center leader Ed Peachey to either resign or face termination over concerns the agency inflated job placement numbers with the state. Chairwoman Sandy Murman said commis...
Published: 02/21/18
St. Pete's World Liquors sign will live on at new home

St. Pete's World Liquors sign will live on at new home

A local landmark for a half century isn't coming down for good.
Published: 02/21/18