Monday, November 20, 2017
Business

Florida consumer confidence tumbles to lowest point of the year

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Floridians turned sharply more pessimistic in August, driving consumer confidence down to the lowest point of the year, according to a survey released Friday.

The University of Florida's monthly index found consumer sentiment dropping 4.8 points to 88.2, with all five components that make up the index turning south.

"Most of the pessimism in August stems from the perceptions of personal finance situation now compared with a year ago and the expectations of personal finance situation one year from now, as these two components account for more than three-quarters of the change in the index," said Hector H. Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF's Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

In fact, the measurement for how people felt about their personal finances compared to a year ago was down a significant 10.5 points to 76.2.

UF said the downward trend was widespread with the exception of those aged 60 and over, whose readings showed little change.

For some perspective, Floridians are still far more optimistic than five years ago when the state was in the early stages of pulling out of the Great Recession and unemployment topped 9 percent. Back in August 2011, consumer sentiment fell as low as 61.4, almost 27 points lower than today's index reading.

A separate national survey by the University of Michigan also found consumers slightly less optimistic in August, though deemed the overall confidence level still "reasonably high."

UM economist and survey director Richard Curtin said less favorable personal financial prospects were largely offset by a slight improvement in the outlook for the overall economy.

The UM report indicated much of the unease over personal finances was rooted in younger households, which cited higher expenses than anticipated along with smaller expected income gains.

Contact Jeff Harrington at jharrington@tampabay.com. Follow @JeffMHarrington.

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