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Consumer index climbs to record level in Utah

Published: Wednesday, July 30 2014 9:18 a.m. MDT

Salt Lake City.

Ravell Call, Deseret News Archives

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SALT LAKE CITY — After a couple stagnant months, consumer attitudes in Utah are again on the rise.

The Zions Bank Utah Consumer Attitude Index climbed 6.6 points from June to July to register at 104.9 — the highest level since its inception. The index broke the 100-point barrier for the first time in April. The current mark represents a 19.4 point improvement over the past year.

Nationally, the July consumer confidence index rose to 90.9 — a 4.5 point jump from the previous month.

Zions Bank economic adviser Randy Shumway credited increased confidence in future economic conditions for the rise in consumer attitudes. In particular, optimism regarding Utah’s labor market played a big role in the uptick, he said.

The state’s jobless rate has fallen 1.1 percentage points over the past year, with the percentage of Utahns who believe jobs in their career field are “plentiful” rose to 32 percent — up 11 percentage points for the year-over-year period, Shumway said.

Looking ahead six months, the percentage of Utahns who believe more jobs will be available in their field increased 5 percentage points to 29 percent in July, he noted.

The report showed that the present situation index — a reflection of consumers' attitudes about current economic conditions — rose 1.5 points to 103.4, a record high for the index. The present situation index has jumped 19 points over the past 12 months, the report stated.

The expectations index — a reflection of consumer expectations for economic conditions six months from now — climbed 10.1 points to register at 105.9 in July. The index has increased nearly 20 points year-over-year.

Conducted by The Cicero Group, the monthly consumer attitude index is based on a representative sample of 500 Utah households at a confidence interval of plus or minus 4.38 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.

Shumway said the improved consumer attitudes bode well for the foreseeable future in the Beehive State. Noting that achieving a level of 110 points would constitute the optimal level of consumer confidence, he said it would not be surprising to reach that height by year's end.

"Barring a catastrophe like increased conflict with Russia, increased escalations in the Middle East or a big drop in the stock market, the fundamentals are in place for consumer confidence to exceed 110 in Utah in the coming months," Shumway said.

E-mail: jlee@deseretnews.com, Twitter: JasenLee1

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