Consumer confidence bounced back in the Sunshine State last month, moving up from 98.1 in December from 95 in November, according to a survey released by the University of Florida (UF) on Wednesday. Across the nation, consumer sentiment was on the rise last month.
“Although December’s figure is slightly below 2018’s average of 98.4, consumer confidence has remained high throughout the year,” said Hector Sandoval, the director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research, on Wednesday.
Prior to Wednesday’s survey, the last four monthly surveys found consumer confidence declining in Florida.
“Floridians’ opinions of their personal financial situations now compared with a year ago increased 3.1 points from 85.1 to 88.2. Attitudes toward whether now is a good time to buy a major household item like an appliance showed the biggest increase in this month’s reading from 105.4 to 109.7, increasing 4.3 points,” UF noted. “Opinions regarding future economic conditions also increased this month. Respondents’ expectations of their personal financial situations a year from now showed the second biggest increase from 102.4 to 105.8, increasing 3.4 points. Anticipation of U.S. economic conditions over the next year rose 1.9 points, from 91.9 to 93.8, and anticipation of U.S. economic conditions over the next five years rose 2.6 points from 90.2 to 92.8.”
Sandoval insisted the latest survey offered some hope for the new year.
“Overall, Floridians are more optimistic this month. Looking ahead to 2019, the gains in consumers’ future expectations about the economy are very positive signs,” Sandoval said.
The survey noted that Florida’s booming job market is helping build consumer confidence. In November, the state unemployment rate stood at 3.3 percent, the lowest it has been since July 2006. This includes more than 241,500 jobs created between November 2017 through November 2018.
The state’s gross domestic product is also on the rise.
“According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Florida’s gross state domestic product increased 4.5 percentage points in the second quarter of 2018. In particular, real estate and rental leasing, professional, scientific and technical services, and information were the leading contributors to economic growth in Florida,” UF noted.
Sandoval said that the roller coaster stock market and the continued federal shutdown are not hurting consumer confidence in Florida.
“Despite the recent volatility in the stock market and the partial government shutdown, the year is ending with an overall positive economic outlook and high level of consumer confidence among Floridians. Looking forward, we expect consumer sentiment in January to remain around the observed average of 2018,” Sandoval said.
The survey was based on the responses of 419 Floridians taken from December 1-28. The 419 Floridians “were reached on cellphones, representing a demographic cross section of Florida” and UF offered some basic insights on the survey.
“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,” UF noted.
Kevin Derby can be reached at Kevin.Derby@floridadaily.com.