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Floridians' consumer confidence edges up, but concerns about U.S. economy remains

When it comes to regaining confidence in the economy, Floridians appear to be of two minds.

They're feeling better about their own finances but are still gloomy about where the national economy is headed in the next few years, according to a monthly survey released Tuesday by the University of Florida.

Overall, consumer confidence among Floridians rose three points in July to 76, which is nine points higher than confidence levels a year ago, the UF survey found. Chris McCarty, survey director within the university's Bureau of Economic and Business Research, said Floridians across all age groups were moderately upbeat.

The uptick was in line with a national gauge of consumer confidence, which also rose in July after four months of declines. Nationally, a brighter outlook for short-term hiring offset longer-term worries about the economy.

The Conference Board reported that its Consumer Confidence Index increased to 65.9, from 62.7 in June. That's the highest national reading since April and better than the reading of 62 that economists had forecast.

Still, the index remains well below 90, which indicates a healthy economy.

For the Florida telephone survey, three of the five components used to measure confidence rose in July. Survey takers said perceptions that they are better off financially today than a year ago rose five points to 66, the highest level since the Great Recession officially ended in late 2009.

Expectations that their personal finances would improve over the year also jumped six points, to 82, and perceptions that it's a good time to buy big-ticket items soared seven points, to 84.

Many, however, have grown more wary about the national economy. Expectations of where the economy will be a year from now fell one point to 72, while the five-year economic outlook dropped three points to 77.

"That opinion may be justified," McCarty said, citing the expiring tax breaks and hefty federal spending cuts that are slated to go into effect barring a fix by Congress at year end.

The survey is benchmarked to 1966, which means a value of 100 represents the same level of confidence as for that year. The lowest possible index score is a 2 and the highest is 150.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Floridians' consumer confidence edges up, but concerns about U.S. economy remains 07/31/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 7:33pm]
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