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Florida Consumer Sentiment at 2-Year High

Floridians anticipate a positive economic outcome in the coming year, bolstered by a strong market and low unemployment, a University of Florida survey found.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Consumer sentiment among Floridians started the year at the highest level over the last two years, highlighting residents’ positive outlook about the future of the economy and personal finances, the University of Florida found in its monthly consumer confidence survey.

The survey showed Floridians’ consumer sentiment increased 3.3 points in January to 72.8 from the revised December figure of 69.5. A national survey, conducted by the business research group Conference Board, found consumer confidence index rose across the country rose for the third straight month, to 114.8 in January from 108 in December.

Hector Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research, said the surge in consumer sentiment in January stems from the positive shift in Floridians’ expectations about the future.

“Contrary to expectations, the anticipated recession failed to materialize in 2023. Instead, a remarkably robust labor market, with unemployment at its lowest, boosted consumer spending, contributing significantly to the growth of the economy. Moreover, inflation has continued to ease in recent months. As a result, the Federal Reserve is poised to consider interest-rate cuts in the year ahead, providing further support to the economy and maintaining the economic expansion through 2024,” Sandoval said.

Among the five components that make up the UF index, four increased and one decreased.

Floridians’ opinions about current economic conditions were mixed in January, and views about personal financial situations now compared with a year ago decreased slightly four-tenths of a point from 56.6 to 56.2. These views were mixed across sociodemographic groups with women and people 60 and older expressing more favorable views. At the same time, opinions as to whether now is a good time to buy a big-ticket household item such as a refrigerator or furniture increased 3.2 points from 61 to 64.2. These positive views were shared by all Floridians except for women, who reported less-favorable views.

Outlooks about anticipated economic conditions were positive. Expectations of personal finances a year from now increased 3.9 points from 81.6 to 85.5. Opinions about U.S. economic conditions over the next year surged by 5.1 points from 71.6 to 76.7, the greatest increase of any reading this month. It is worth noting that over the past two months, this component has risen by over 10 points, indicating that Floridians anticipated a positive economic outlook in the coming year, UF economists said. Similarly, views of U.S. economic conditions over the next five years climbed 5 points, from 76.5 to 81.5. These optimistic views across the three components were shared by all Floridians.

“Overall, Floridians start the year with optimism. The increase in consumer confidence, particularly regarding future economic outlooks, indicates robust consumer spending, which will keep the favorable economic outlook in the upcoming months,” said Sandoval. “Looking ahead, we expect further positive shifts in consumer confidence in the months ahead, particularly if the Fed interest-rates cuts materialize sooner rather than later.”

The UF study, conducted Jan. 1 to 29, reflects the responses of 429 individuals who were reached on cellphones and 293 individuals reached through an online panel, a total of 722 individuals, 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 two, the highest is 150.

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