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UF: Fla. Consumers Attitudes in Jan. Unchanged Since Dec.

UF’s survey of Floridians’ attitudes found a decline in optimism for current situations but a general increase in long-term outlooks. The index rose 1.3 points year-to-year.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Consumer sentiment among Floridians remained unchanged in January from December’s revised figure of 99.4, but confidence is up 1.3 points compared with a year ago. January is the third consecutive month with no movement in the overall index.

Among the five components that make up the index, two increased and three decreased.

Although consumer sentiment experienced no change overall, Floridian’s opinions regarding current economic conditions deteriorated in January.

Perceptions of one’s personal financial situation now compared with a year ago decreased 3.2 points from 91.2 to 88, the greatest decline of any reading this month. This opinion is shared by all Floridians across sociodemographic groups though are stronger among women and those 60 and older. Views as to whether now is a good time to buy a major household item like an appliance decreased three-tenths of a point from 106.5 to 106.2. Groups reporting favorable views include men, those under 60, and those with income above $50,000.

Outlooks about future economic conditions in January were mixed across sociodemographic groups, but overall were favorable.

Expectations of personal finances a year from now increased 3.3 points from 102.1 to 105.4, while anticipations of U.S. economic conditions over the next year decreased 1.6 points from 101 to 99.4. Finally, outlooks of U.S. economic conditions over the next five years increased 1.9 points from 96.4 to 98.3.

“While responses to each component of the index were split by demographic groups, across all components those age 60 and older consistently reported less favorable views. These pessimistic views were particularly stronger among senior Floridians’ responses to whether now is a good time to buy a big-ticket item and to anticipations about national economic conditions over the next year,” says Hector H. Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

Florida’s labor market continued to strengthen in the last month of 2019. The monthly unemployment rate in Florida decreased one-tenth of a point in December from November’s rate and reached a record low of 3% – the first time Florida recorded this level of unemployment since the series began tracking it in 1976. In December, 212,000 jobs were added statewide compared with a year ago, an increase of 2.4%.

Among all industries, education and health services gained the most jobs, followed by leisure and hospitality, and professional and business services. The only industry losing jobs over the year was information.

“Despite the lack of movement in the index, consumer sentiment in Florida continued to be high,” Sandoval says. “Looking ahead to the coming months, we anticipate consumer sentiment to remain around the same levels. Nonetheless, consumer confidence might change its trend as disruptions to supply chains and other travel restrictions affect economic activity in China.”

Conducted Jan. 1-30, the UF study reflects the responses of 575 individuals who were reached on cellphones, representing a demographic cross section of Florida. The index used by UF researchers is benchmarked to 1966, which means a value of 100 represents the same level of confidence for that year. The lowest index possible is a 2, the highest is 150.

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