By JEFF HARRINGTON,
c.2012 Tampa Bay Times@
Consumer confidence among Floridians is on the rise, rebounding from a dismal reading the month before when the federal government shutdown was fueling pessimism.
The University of Florida survey released Tuesday found that consumer sentiment bounced back to a reading of 76 in November, up from a revised reading of 70 in October.
Chris McCarty, survey director within UF's Bureau of Economic and Business Research, said a renewed optimism was expected "as the shutdown and debt ceiling debate came and went."
Still, he noted that confidence is still several points shy of the post-recession high of 81 and it's far removed from the level of optimism that typifies a vibrant economy. The survey is benchmarked to 1966, which means a value of 100 represents the same level of confidence for that year.
The survey measures five components to assess consumer sentiment. By far the largest surge came in consumer perception that now is a good time to buy a big-ticket item like a car. That jumped 16 points to 94.
More people felt that the economy would be better over the next year as well as five years out.
Only one of the components fell. Survey takers' expectation that their personal finances would be improved a year from now dropped two points to 72. Among different groups, seniors had the highest level of skepticism about the economy.
In a separate report Tuesday, the Conference Board said its index of consumer confidence dropped to its lowest level in seven months. The November reading of 70.4 was down from 72.4 in October and well below the 80.2 reading in September.
Economists cited several reasons for the slip, from concerns about slower hiring and lower pay to frustration with Washington politics to the bedeviled rollout of the Affordable Care Act.
Times wires contributed to this report.