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Utah consumers mix optimism, pessimism about economy
While the latest Zions Bank Consumer Attitude Index report shows that Utahns are feeling better about the economy than at any time since the survey began in 2011, there are still a number of areas of pessimism.
The survey, conducted by the Cicero Group and Dan Jones & Associates, showed that the attitude index increased 4.3 points to 92.6 from August through September. Zions Bank says a reading of more than 90 percent is historically consistent with a healthy economy.
By comparison, a similar national Consumer Confidence Index report decreased 2.1 points in the last month to 79.7 percent.
Other results showed that Utah business conditions were rated as good by 37 percent, a decrease of 1 percent since August. The group that said jobs were plentiful increased by two points to 22 percent while 26 percent said there would be more jobs, an increase of two points. Twenty-seven percent think business conditions will be better in the six months, a drop of one point, while 26 percent of Utahns surveyed said they expect their income to increase, an uptick of two points.
Looking at more detailed polling, though, showed plenty of pessimism as well.
For example, 60 percent of Utahns think the federal government is doing a poor job managing the economy, a drop of two points in a month. Eleven percent of Utahns think the state government is doing a poor job on the economy, a drop of one percentage point. The survey showed that 21 percent think it is likely or very likely the U.S. economy will improve over the next 12 months, down from 24 percent in the month prior.
Utahns are also apparently worried about inflation with 93 percent thinking gasoline prices will either increase or stay the same over the next 12 months with most thinking the price per gallon will go up 40 cents. Only 20 percent of those surveyed feel as though their household income will increase faster than the rate of inflation, while 34 percent expect $1,000 invested in their 401K will be worth more than $1,000 a year from now. That is down three percent from August. And 72 percent believe interest rates will increase in the next 12 months.
Sixty-one percent think the price of homes such as theirs will either significantly increase or slightly increase over the next 12 months, down four percentage points from the all-time high in July.
According to the Associated Press, consumers' confidence is closely watched because their spending accounts for 70 percent of economic activity. The wire service quoted Lynn Franco, who oversees the national survey, as saying the dimmer outlook for the next few months in consumer confidence nationally — down to 79.7 in September from 81. 8 in August — reflected concerns about the job market and wages.