Overall sentiments among Floridians remain 19.3 points below pre-pandemic, but month-to-month consumers’ attitudes rose 1.7 points as the state slowly bounces back.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Among Florida consumers, optimism appears to be slowly gaining ground.

According to the University of Florida’s monthly consumer sentiment survey, state residents’ attitudes ticked up 1.7 points in April to 83 from March’s revised figure of 81.3. A similar national survey found consumer sentiment increased 3.4 points.

“Consumer sentiment dropped at an unprecedented rate in the second quarter of 2020, when it tumbled 26 points between February and April,” says Hector H. Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research. “One year since, consumer confidence remains 19.3 points below pre-pandemic levels, indicating that confidence has recovered at a slow pace.”

Among the five components that make up the index, three increased, one decreased and one remained unchanged.

Current conditions: Floridians’ opinions about current economic conditions were mixed. On the one hand, perceptions of personal financial situations now compared to a year ago increased 4.2 points from 68.4 to 72.6 – the greatest increase of any reading this month. However, opinions varied by demographics with men and people older than 60 reporting less-favorable opinions.

Is it a good time to buy a big-ticket item? Opinions on whether it’s a good time to buy a big-ticket item, such as refrigerators, cars or furniture, dropped 1.1 points from 77.8 to 76.7.

Future expectations: Overall, Floridians expect better things in one year and in five years.

Expectations for personal finances one year from now increased 1.7 points from 90.6 to 92.3, though the year-ahead expectation for the U.S. economy was unchanged at 85.7 points.

In five years, however, Floridians expect U.S. economic conditions to rise notably higher. That index increased 3.8 points from 83.7 to 87.5.

“Overall, Floridians are more optimistic in April. The increase in consumer confidence is fueled by improvements in Floridians’ personal financial situations now compared with a year ago, which largely reflects the impact of the federal stimulus payments,” Sandoval says.

The latest Florida jobs report may suggest that the labor market is losing some momentum. Notably, the unemployment rate had dropped every month since May 2020 until February 2021, according to the Department of Economic Opportunity. It noted that 32,200 jobs were added statewide in March, a 0.4% increase over the month, though the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.7%. Worker filings for unemployment benefits increased in April, averaging 20,466 weekly jobless claims, among the highest since February.

“While Florida’s labor market recovery is stalling, the increase in consumer confidence over the last month suggests increased consumer spending and a potential boost to the state economy,” Sandoval says.

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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Author: kerrys