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Fla. Consumer Confidence Bounces Back, Up 3.7 Points

All five components rose too. UF economist: “Consistent with the vaccination rollout …, the gain in confidence came from consumers’ future expectations.”

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Attitudes are improving in Florida. After tumbling in February, consumer sentiment increased in March 3.7 points from February’s revised figure of 77.2 – though a similar national poll found an 8.1-point bump in national confidence.

All five components that make up the index also increased.

Current outlook: Floridians’ opinions of their personal financial situation now compared with a year ago increased 1.3 points from 66.4 to 67.7. However, opinions varied by demographics, with women and people older than 60 reporting less-favorable opinions.

Similarly, an index on whether it’s a good time to make a major purchase, such as an appliance, rose 5.4 points from 71.7 to 77.1. Again, however, older Floridians (60 and older) had less-favorable opinions.

Future outlook: Attitudes about future economic conditions were also positive. Expectations for personal finances a year from now increased 3.6 points, from 87.6 to 91.2 – but again, not so much for people older than 60.

Expectations about U.S. economic conditions over the next year increased 6.8 points, from 79 to 85.8, the greatest increase of any reading in March. In this case, older adults generally agreed, and it was shared across all sociodemographic groups, and especially strong among those with an annual income above $50,000.

Finally, views of U.S. economic conditions over the next five years increased 1.4 points from 81.4 to 82.8. While adults over 60 seemed to agree that good things would happen over the next year, however, they were less optimistic about the next five years.

“In four of the five components, people older than 60 reported more pessimistic views than the state at-large,” says Hector H. Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research. However, “despite the differing opinions by age, Floridians overall are more optimistic in March and are anticipating greater economic prospects.

“Consistent with the vaccination rollout and the proposed vaccine eligibility expansions, the gain in confidence came from consumers’ future expectations, particularly from Floridians’ expectations about the national economy over the next year,” Sandoval adds.

Florida’s labor market has continued to recover. The state’s unemployment rate dropped 0.1% in February, reaching 4.7%. New claims of unemployment benefits have maintained a downward trend, and in March, they dropped to the lowest level since the pandemic began one year ago.

“The recovery is far from complete, though the vaccine eligibility expansion recently announced, opening up eligibility to all adults, is expected to have a positive impact on Florida’s economic prospects in the short-run,” says Sandoval. “Coupled with the arrival of the third stimulus check, which is expected to boost local economies, we anticipate an increased rate of recovery and further improvements in consumer sentiment in the coming months.”