Report: Consumer attitudes improving in Utah

Published: Tuesday, June 24 2014 8:32 p.m. MDT

Updated: Tuesday, June 24 2014 8:32 p.m. MDT

The Zions Bank Utah Consumer Attitude Index climbed 2 percentage points to 98.3 from May to June, regaining some of last month’s 6.6-point decline. The index has improved 10.4 points over the past year.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utahns appear to be more confident in the direction of the state’s economic future, according to a new report.

The Zions Bank Utah Consumer Attitude Index climbed 2 percentage points to 98.3 from May to June, regaining some of last month’s 6.6-point decline. The index has improved 10.4 points over the past year. Nationally, the consumer confidence index jumped 3 percentage points to register at 85.2.

The local index moved higher this month due to increased confidence in current economic conditions, said Aaron Andersen, director at the Cicero Group.

“Consumer attitudes regained their positive momentum in June," Andersen said Tuesday at a monthly news conference. "We expect this strong confidence to continue as all the key indicators of the economy buttress confidence in the economy.”

The percentage of Utahns who believe current business conditions are “good” rose from 43 percent in May to 46 percent in June, and 10 percentage points from a year ago.

Utahns also see a strong labor market, with the percentage who said jobs in their area are “plentiful” rising to 31 percent, up 3 percentage points from May and 16 percentage points year over year, the report stated.

Over the past 12 months, the state’s unemployment rate has fallen from 4.6 percent to 3.6 percent, as all major stock indices have increased and the housing market has continued to show strong improvement, Andersen said.

“Because of these improved conditions, more Utahns seem to think the economy has peaked and will remain steady over the next few months,” he said. “The percentage of Utahns who think business conditions will be the same six months from now increased 4 percentage points this month to an all-time high of 65 percent.”

The consumer attitude index is based on a representative sample of 500 Utah households surveyed monthly by the Cicero Group, with confidence level of plus or minus 4.4 percent.

Meanwhile, the present situation index — a reflection of how consumers feel about current economic conditions — registered an all all-time high of 101.9 points after climbing 5.7 points from May to June. The index has increased 24.5 points over the past year, indicating the ongoing progress of positive economic conditions in the state, Andersen said.

The expectations index — a measure of consumers’ outlook for economic conditions six months from now — declined slightly, falling 0.5 points from May to June.

Andersen noted that a rise in the expectations index would generally predict a rise in the present situation index, as consumers move from anticipating improvements to the economy to observing them. This principle has played out over the past year, he said.

The expectations index was 17.4 points higher than the present situation index in June 2013, but, with observably improved economic conditions, the present situation index has not only risen to meet expectations, it also stands 6.1 points higher than the expectations index, Andersen said.

Over the course of this time, the present situation index has increased drastically, while the expectations index has remained steady, he said.

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