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Utahns' consumer confidence hits new high

Published April 30, 2014 8:46 am

Attitude • Nationally, consumer confidence is down amid concerns over hiring, business conditions.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Utahns are increasingly confident in the business conditions found in the Beehive State.

The Zions Bank Utah Consumer Attitude Index has increased 3.7 point to 102.9, its highest since the index started in 2011. Improving business conditions and strong labor and housing markets drove the index up for the sixth-consecutive month.

"The CAI surged into uncharted territory this month, breaking the 100-point threshold for the first time ever," said Scott Anderson, president and CEO of Zions Bank. "But let's not take this for granted. Utah has been able to thrive because we have a very diverse and dynamic economy, our workforce is highly educated, and our leaders place an emphasis on providing a business-friendly economic environment. As long as we keep focused on these areas, we can expect Utah to continue to prosper."

An index number above 100 indicates a growing economy. Analysis and data collection for the index are done by the Salt Lake City-based The Cicero Group.

Some of the findings from the index included:

• A total of 43 percent of Utahns said current business conditions are good.

• Only 8 percent of Utahns said current business conditions are bad.

• Thirty-one percent of Utahns expect business conditions to improve six months from now, up three percentage points from March.

• Twenty-seven percent of Utahns believe jobs are plentiful

• Eighty-five percent of Utahns think the state government is doing a good or fair job with economic policy; 39 percent think the federal government is doing so.

• Eighty-four percent of Utahns think prices of consumer goods will go up over the next year, with 82 percent thinking gas prices will be higher in that timeframe.

• Only 22 percent of Utahns believe their household income will rise at a rate higher than inflation during the next two years; however, 30 percent believe their household income will increase in the next six months.

Nationally, consumer confidence fell in April over concerns about hiring and business conditions, even though many people foresee a strengthening economy in the months ahead.

The Conference Board says its confidence index dropped to 82.3 from a March reading of 83.9. Despite the decline, consumer sentiment for the past two months has been at its strongest levels since January 2008, when the Great Recession was just beginning.

Conference Board economist Lynn Franco says that consumers became a bit more doubtful about current economic conditions but that their outlook for growth held steady.

Consumer confidence is closely watched because consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of the U.S. economy.