1. Business

Consumer confidence falls both nationally and in Florida

Published Jan. 30, 2013

Consumer confidence fell slightly in Florida and hit a 14-month low nationally in January based on separate reports released Tuesday.

Florida consumer confidence dipped one point to a reading of 75, far better than levels during the recession but still relatively low, according to a University of Florida survey.

Chris McCarty, director of UF's Survey Research Center, said confidence has been rather flat since the November election, with gradually improving economic conditions countered by prolonged political debate over the federal government's budget and other fiscal pressures.

The telephone survey indicated mixed perceptions, with respondents less likely to say they feel better off than a year ago (down 3 points), but more optimistic their personal finances will be improve by this time next year (up 1 point).

Higher payroll taxes that went into effect in January may explain one big divergence, McCarty said. Consumer confidence fell 7 points among Florida's more affluent households but rose 5 points for those making less than $30,000 a year.

Separately, the Conference Board said its gauge of U.S. consumer confidence fell to 58.6 in January, down significantly from 66.7 in December. Conference Board economist Lynn Franco cited the higher payroll taxes as a key reason for the drop.