SALT LAKE CITY — Utah consumers are gaining faith in the local economy, a new report shows.
The Zions Bank Utah Consumer Attitude Index jumped 2.5 points to 109.3 in September — just short of the 110-point level indicating a fully functioning economy. In stark contrast, the national consumer confidence index fell 7.4 points to 86.
As for Utah, barring any unforeseen circumstances, the next few months are expected to be economically prosperous, according to Zions Bank economic adviser Randy Shumway, particularly as the holiday shopping season approaches.
“In the United States, we’ll see $7.4 billion spent this year on Halloween spending,” Shumway said. “This spending creates jobs and excitement and fun. People will be spending money on something that is exciting and enjoyable.”
That positive outlook should favor improvement through year’s end, he added.
The report showed the expectations index, a measure that reflects how consumers feel about economic conditions six months from now, increased 3.6 points to 107. Meanwhile, the present situation index — a gauge measuring how consumers feel about current economic conditions, rose 0.8 percent to 112.8 in the past month but experienced the largest increase from this time last year, jumping 19.9 points over the past 12 months.
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 much of the confidence expressed by consumers is due to the state’s strong employment outlook.
The state’s labor market grew again in August as the unemployment rate held steady at 3.6 percent. The index showed that job growth in Utah was solid, with both full- and part-time opportunities growing.
Consumers say the job market is strong and believe it will improve even more in the coming months, Shumway said. Utah currently boasts the second-lowest unemployment rate in the nation behind North Dakota, he added.
The state’s nonfarm payroll employment for August grew by an estimated 3.5 percent, adding 45,900 jobs to the economy as compared with August 2013, according to the Utah Department of Workforce Services. Utah’s current employment level registered at more than 1.3 million.
Approximately 51,100 Utahns were considered unemployed and actively seeking work. The national unemployment rate sat virtually unchanged, dropping one-tenth of a percentage point from July to 6.1 percent.
“Utah’s job growth continues at a strong and steady rate,” said Department of Workforce Services chief economist Carrie Mayne. “Although the household survey has shown a decline in Utah’s labor force volume, expansion in the job market shows strong hiring activity.”
Many employment opportunities exist across the state for Utah workers, she added.
The Utah Department of Workforce Services reported that each of the 10 private-sector industry groups measured in the monthly survey posted net job increases in August as compared with last year, with the greatest increases in construction, which added 8,700 new jobs; trade, transportation and utilities, with 6,800 new positions; and leisure and hospitality services, with 6,600 new jobs.
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