GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Nov. 28, 2017 – After three months of consecutive declines, consumer sentiment among Floridians rose to 96.7 in November, up 1.9 points from October's revised figure of 94.8, according to the latest University of Florida consumer survey.
Consumer sentiment in Florida started 2017 with a record-breaking figure and, during the first half of the year, reached its highest level in 15 years. And now, despite downturns in the second half of the year, the index is still half a point higher than its 2017 average as the year draws to a close.
Among the five components that make up the index, four increased and one decreased in November.
Perceptions of personal financial situations now compared with a year ago rose 2.2 points, from 86.5 to 88.7. However, opinions as to whether it's a good time to buy a big-ticket household item like an appliance dropped eight-tenths of a point, from 102.7 to 101.9. Readings varied across demographic groups without a clear pattern.
"Despite one reading going up and the other down this month, the perceptions of current economic conditions among Floridians have remained positive and stable during 2017," says Hector H. Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF's Bureau of Economic and Business Research.
Expectations of personal finances a year from now ticked up 1.2 points to 105.4. Anticipated U.S. economic conditions over the next year showed the greatest increase, up 4.6 points from 91.5 to 96.1. Expectations of U.S. economic conditions over the next five years increased 2.3 points from 89.1 to 91.4.
"Future expectations improved greatly in this month's reading. Similar to the perceptions of current economic conditions, they have remained consistent in 2017," Sandoval says. "Overall, Floridians are more optimistic, and the gain in November's sentiment came from consumers' future expectations about the economy in the medium- and long-run. Nonetheless, consumer sentiment has been very favorable over the year."
Economic indicators in Florida have remained largely positive, and the prospects for 2018 appear good. Since the beginning of the year, Florida's labor market has strengthened, with solid job gains statewide every month. Between January and October, the Florida unemployment rate declined by 1.4 percentage points, from 5 to 3.6 percent, reaching the lowest rate in the past 10 years.
Also, Florida's gross domestic product increased 3.6 percent in the second quarter of 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The leading contributors to economic growth in Florida include professional, scientific and technical services, the real estate and leasing sector, and retail trade.
"The favorable local economic conditions and positive trends on the labor market, combined with the positive expectations about the U.S. economy in the short and long run will have a positive impact on Florida's economy in the beginning of next year," Sandoval said.
Conducted Nov. 1-20, the UF study reflects the responses of 482 individuals who were reached on cellphones, 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 2, the highest is 150.