Amid talk of trade wars and interest rate cuts, Floridians continue to toggle between hope and fear when it comes to what they think about their finances and the future of the economy.
Take this month. When University of Florida researchers called 482 residents on their cell phones and asked how they felt about their personal finances compared with a year ago, more said they felt optimistic than did a similar group polled in September.
But consumers told pollsters they felt more pessimistic about:
• How they expect their finances to be a year from now;
• Whether now is a good time to buy an appliance or make another major household purchase;
• How strong they expect the national economy to be a year from now, and five years from now.
So when all the responses were considered together, consumers felt worse overall in October than they had in September, researchers said.
Gloomier expectations about the state of the national economy next year were "shared by all Floridians and are particularly stronger among women, those age 60 and older, and those with income levels above $50,000,” said Hector H. Sandoval, director of the economic analysis program at the university’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research
Overall consumer confidence in Florida has fluctuated for months: It rose steadily from January through April. Then it had a big drop in May. It went up again in June and July, then dropped in August and rose in September before dropping again in October.
But these fluctuations generally have been small. Meanwhile, the state continues to create new jobs and to see its unemployment rate, 3.2 percent in September, approach a record low.
“Despite the slightly decreased and pessimistic outlook about future economic conditions, consumer sentiment continues to be high in Florida, and unemployment levels are currently at their lowest since July 2006,” Sandoval said in a summary of the poll’s findings. "These indicators are positive signs for retailers, who can expect more spending during the holiday shopping season.”