Make us your home page
Instagram

Consumer confidence in Florida, nation drops sharply

Consumer confidence among Floridians tumbled in March as international turmoil and rising gas prices stoked concerns about the economy's direction, according to a survey released Tuesday.

The decline reported by the University of Florida, which mirrors a sharp drop in consumer confidence nationally, took away much of the gains from earlier this year. A couple of months ago, optimism was on the rise with hiring picking up nationally, new filings of unemployment claims falling and higher paychecks thanks to a tax compromise between Republicans in Congress and the Obama administration.

More recently, however, events overseas have upstaged any positive economic news on the home front. That knocked Florida's index down four points to a reading of 72.

"There's been a lot of news in March for consumers to process," said Chris McCarty, survey director within UF's Bureau of Economic and Business Research. Specifically, he cited unrest in the Middle East and North Africa as well as the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

"The unrest in the Middle East and North Africa has been both inspirational and unnerving," McCarty said, noting that the deterioration in Libya is raising concern over U.S. involvement as well as the impact on oil production. The Japanese crisis, meanwhile, is sparking worries about nuclear safety and the international product supply line.

As a result, surveyed Floridians were much more wary about the country's direction. A survey component that measures perceptions of U.S. economic conditions over the next year fell nine points to 68, the biggest decline in that category since May, 2010. Perceptions of where the U.S. economy would be five years from now dropped six points to 74, the lowest reading since August, 2010. Confidence in buying big-ticket items like cars and appliances fell nine points to 79.

The only component in the index to rise was perception of one's personal financial situation now compared with a year ago, up one point to a still-low 57. Floridians' perception of where their personal finances would be a year from now was unchanged at 81.

Looking ahead, McCarty predicted the aftermath of political uprisings and the Japan earthquake should weigh less on consumers, but the combination of rising gas prices, budget cuts and persistent double-digit unemployment should negate any climb in confidence.

He said it's "likely that the negatives will keep consumer confidence in the upper 60s to lower 70s for the next few months."

Nationally, consumer confidence is also waning, falling more than expected in March to 63.4 from a revised 72 in February, the Conference Board reported Tuesday.

The decline, which reversed five straight months of improvement, was blamed in part on higher gas and food prices.

"Consumers' inflation expectations rose significantly in March and their income expectations soured, a combination that will likely impact spending decisions," Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center, said in a statement.

In a healthy economy, the index level should be closer to 90, a level not seen since the recession began in December, 2007.

In a separate report last week, the University of Michigan's gauge of consumer sentiment plummeted by 10 points in March, reversing five months of gains.

Consumer confidence in Florida, nation drops sharply 03/29/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 8:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trigaux: How Moffitt Cancer's M2Gen startup won $75 million from Hearst

    Business

    TAMPA — A Moffitt Cancer Center spin-off that's building a massive genetic data base of individual patient cancer information just caught the attention of a deep-pocketed health care investor.

    Richard P. Malloch is the president of Hearst Business Media, which is announcing a $75 million investment in M2Gen, the for-profit cancer informatics unit spun off by Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center. Malloch's job is to find innovative investments for the Hearst family fortune. A substantial amount has been invested in health care, financial and the transportation and logistics industries.
  2. Three-hour police standoff ends, thanks to a cigarette

    News

    TAMPA — A man threatening to harm himself was arrested by Tampa police on Tuesday after a three-hour standoff.

  3. Another Hollywood nursing home resident dies. It's the 9th in post-Irma tragedy.

    State Roundup

    The Broward County Medical Examiner's office is investigating another death of a resident of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills — the ninth blamed on the failure of a cooling system that became a stifling deathtrap three days after Irma hit.

    Carlos Canal, pictured at 47 years old, came to Miami from Cuba in 1960. Above is his citizenship photo. [Courtesy of Lily Schwartz]
  4. Despite Hurricane Irma, Hillsborough remains on pace to unlock hotel tax that could pay for Rays ballpark

    Tourism

    TAMPA — Despite the threat of a catastrophic storm, it was business as usual at many Hillsborough County hotels in the days before Hurricane Irma bore down on the Tampa Bay region.

    The Grand Hyatt near TIA closed during Hurricane Irma, but many other Hillsborough hotels were open and saw an influx.
  5. New Graham-Cassidy health care plan stumbles under opposition from governors

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — The suddenly resurgent Republican effort to undo the Affordable Care Act was dealt a blow on Tuesday when a bipartisan group of governors came out against a proposal gaining steam in the Senate.

    Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., joined by, from left, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., speaks to reporters as he pushes a last-ditch effort to uproot former President Barack Obama's health care law, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. To win, 50 of the 52 GOP senators must back it -- a margin they failed to reach when the chamber rejected the effort in July. [/J. Scott Applewhite | Associated Press]