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Floridians a Bit More Confident in May

UF: After a drop in April – the only one in 2023 so far – Floridians’ consumer outlook rose modestly again in May as the state bucks national trends.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Florida continues to defy national trends. According to the monthly consumer sentiment study from the University of Florida’s (UF) Bureau of Economic and Business Research, consumer sentiment among Floridians inched up one-tenth of a point in May to 68.8 from a revised figure of 68.7 in April – the only month so far this year that saw a decline.

Nationally, consumer sentiment fell 4.3 points.

“Despite the ups and downs in consumer sentiment observed over the last 12 months, Florida’s consumer confidence has trended upwards, with a notable increase of 8 points in May compared to a year ago,” says Hector H. Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

“This positive trend is consistent with a strong labor market and aligns well with the general decline in inflation levels since its peak in June,” says. “Nonetheless, it is worth noting that consumer confidence continues to remain at historically low levels.”

Among the five components that make up the full index, three increased and two decreased.

Current economic conditions: Floridians’ opinions about current economic conditions portrayed a slightly more optimistic outlook in May. Views of personal financial situations now compared with a year ago increased slightly by nine-tenths of a point from 62.6 to 63.5.

Similarly, opinions as to whether it’s a good time to buy a big-ticket household item such as a refrigerator or furniture increased 1.7 points from 59.6 to 61.3.

Future expectations: The three components focusing on Floridians’ attitudes about the future were mixed. Expectations of personal finances a year from now decreased slightly, three-tenths of a point, from 83.6 to 83.3.

On the other hand, expectations about U.S. economic conditions over the next year increased slightly – three-tenths of a point from 66.3 to 66.6 – but the outlook for U.S. economic conditions over the next five years dropped 2.6 points from 71.7 to 69.1.

Florida’s labor market has remained robust, with strong demand for workers and a consistently low unemployment rate, according to the report. In April, the state’s unemployment rate held steady at 2.6% for the fourth consecutive month, which is lower than the national rate. Moreover, the leisure and hospitality industry showed the largest percent change in job gains over the year, experiencing and increase of 7.3%.

“Despite concerns about persistent inflation, the recent turmoil in the banking sector and the possibility of further interest rate hikes, we anticipate that consumer confidence among Floridians will continue to trend upward in the months ahead,” says Sandoval. “This is based on the expectation that Florida’s tourism industry will experience an increase in demand during the upcoming summer season.”

Sandoval adds a caveat, however, saying that outlook “may change drastically if the debt-ceiling standoff fails to be resolved and payments on U.S. government debt are not made.”

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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