UF’s monthly sentiment index ticked up 2.6 points in Dec. Current attitudes were mixed, but people showed increased optimism about the economy later this year.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – After four months of consecutive declines, consumer sentiment among Floridians rose to 72.2 in December, up 2.6 points from November’s revised figure of 69.6. That increase was also reflected in a study of national consumers.
“Though consumer sentiment among Floridians ended 2021 on a positive note, the continuing declines experienced during the second half of the year have left a 10-point gap between this month’s figure and December of last year,” says Hector H. Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research. “In fact, consumer confidence has been declining over the past two consecutive years.”
Among the five components that make up the total index, four increased and one decreased.
Current conditions: Floridians’ opinions about current economic conditions were mixed. Views of personal financial situations now compared with a year ago decreased slightly, two-tenths of a point from 65.0 to 64.8. In contrast, opinions as to whether it’s a good time to buy a major household item like an appliance increased 2.9 points from 58.3 to 61.2.
UF says that upward trend is shared by all Floridians, and it’s “particularly strong” among people with an annual income above $50,000.
Future expectations: All three components that measure Floridians’ opinions about the future rose this month:
- Expectations of personal finances a year from now increased 3.4 points, from 83.9 to 87.3
- U.S. economic conditions over the next year rose 5.1 points, from 68.1 to 73.2
- The outlook for U.S. economic conditions over the next five years increased 2.2 points, from 72.5 to 74.7
According to UF, those rosier future expectations applied to almost all Floridians except for people age 60 and older, who have pessimistic viewpoints regarding both their personal finances a year from now and the nation’s economic outlook over the next five years.
Attitudes appear to have improved along with other Florida economic indicators.
Florida’s labor market continued to recover in the final months of the year. In November, the state’s unemployment rate was 4.5%, down 0.9% from a year ago. Similarly, new applications for unemployment benefits have remained low. However, inflation accelerated in November reaching a 39-year high.
“The increasing cost of everyday essentials such as food and gasoline could reduce spending elsewhere, thus slowing the economic recovery,” Sandoval says.
“Floridians’ optimistic opinions about the national economy over the next year suggest that they anticipate improved economic prospects in 2022. Nevertheless, the rising Covid-19 cases due to the fast-spreading omicron variant are expected to slow economic activity in the short run, as demonstrated by the recent disruptions in air travel. As a result, we expect consumer confidence to remain weak in the first months of 2022,” Sandoval adds.
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