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Fla. Consumers’ Optimism Rises this Month

For the second month in a row, Floridians’ attitudes about their current situation rose – and their outlook for the future moved a bit higher too.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of Florida’s (UF) monthly consumer sentiment survey for November found an increase of 1.9 points month-to-month – to 68.3 from a revised figure of 66.4 in October.

“This marks the second consecutive monthly increase in consumer sentiment following October’s revised figures,” says Hector H. Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research. “While optimism in November was primarily driven by opinions regarding current economic conditions, expectations about future outlooks, particularly over the next 12 months, also played a significant role.”

Sandoval says the numbers suggest a boost in consumer spending during the holiday season and “contribute to the ongoing economic momentum as the year ends.”

All five components that make up the index increased.

Current economic conditions: Floridians’ opinions about current economic conditions improved in November. Perceptions of personal financial situations now compared with a year ago increased 3.1 points from 54.2 to 57.3 – the greatest increase of any reading this month.

Opinions on whether it’s a good time to buy a major household item, such as an appliance, increased by 2.2 points from 56.9 to 59.1. One demographic group studied by UF, people 60 and over, however, didn’t share that more positive view.

Future economic conditions: Outlooks about expected economic conditions were also positive. Expectations of personal finances a year from now increased 2 points, from 83.7 to 85.7.

Expectations about U.S. economic conditions a year from now increased 1.2 points, from 64.8 to 66. And views on U.S. economic conditions over the next five years also saw a slight increase – seven-tenths of a point, from 72.7 to 73.4.

Still, some demographic groups in Florida aren’t as optimistic about the future. In general, the pessimists were largely men, people age 60 and older, and adults making an annual income less than $50,000.

Florida’s economy

Overall, Florida’s economic activity remains positive, with the economy adding more jobs. The state’s unemployment rate held steady at 2.8% in October, even as the national unemployment rate increased slightly to 3.9%.

In addition, inflation continued its slowdown, reaching a 3.2% annual rate. Although inflation remains above the central bank’s 2% target rate, the Fed held interest rates steady for the second consecutive time in their latest meeting held in early November.

“While more evidence of cooling inflation is needed for the Fed to conclude the historic tightening cycle that has led interest rates to a 22-year high, the current pause is undoubtedly welcome and contributes to a positive economic outlook,” said Sandoval.

“As the year draws to a close, we anticipate a modest improvement in consumer sentiment, in view of the inflation outlook and the resilience of the labor market,” says Sandoval.

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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