Florida's consumer confidence level remains unchanged in December

Florida's consumer confidence level was unchanged in December, but researchers noted a clear shift in some of the five components used to measure confidence.

The upshot: We feel worse about where we are, but better about where we'll be.

According to the University of Florida monthly survey released Tuesday:

• Perceptions of our current personal financial situation, compared to a year ago, fell 5 points to 51.

• Perceptions of where our personal finances will be a year from now rose 2 points to 80.

More Floridians surveyed also thought the U.S. economy will struggle over the next year, but confidence is up slightly for the long-term outlook.

Overall, the state's consumer confidence mark stayed at a relatively low 71. The telephone survey is benchmarked to 1966, meaning a reading of 100 would reflect the same level of consumer confidence as that year.

"Historically, numbers this low would be consistent with recessionary levels. The recession of 2008-2009 changed that," survey director Chris McCarty said. "Unlike past recessions where consumers led the recovery, this recovery is leaving a substantial proportion of the population behind."

Stubbornly high unemployment — with Florida's jobless rate at a near-record 12 percent last month — remains the state's biggest obstacle to recovery, he said.

Separately, the Conference Board reported Tuesday that U.S. consumer confidence took an unexpected drop last month amid renewed concerns about the sluggish job market.

Amid signs of a recovering economy this fall, U.S. consumer confidence had been building, hitting a five-month high in November's report. Economists had widely expected another uptick in confidence. Instead, the index fell to 52.5 from an upwardly revised 54.3 in November.

The index would have to reach 90 to be at a level indicating the economy is stable.

Consumers polled were slightly more pessimistic about current conditions, but researchers downplayed the drop.

"Despite this month's modest decline, consumer confidence is no worse off today than it was a year ago," said Lynn Franco, director of the Consumer Research Center at the Conference Board, in a statement. "All signs continue to suggest that the economic expansion will continue well into 2011, but that the pace of growth will remain moderate."

Florida's consumer confidence level remains unchanged in December 12/28/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 28, 2010 9:31pm]

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