Despite some slippage from April to May, Utahns "still have strong confidence in the state’s economy," according to the latest Zions Bank consumer survey.
The bank’s Consumer Attitude Index (CAI) decreased 6.6 points in May to 96.3. Even with that decline, the index is nearly 20 points higher than a year ago, said Scott Anderson, Zions president and CEO.
"Before we become too concerned let’s remember consumer attitudes are still near historic levels. We have a remarkably low unemployment rate and our housing market is thriving. This is merely a bump in the road," he added. "We expect attitudes, and subsequently the state’s economy, to continue to march higher in the coming months."
Utah’s consumer confidence rating still far exceeds the national mood, which rose 1.3 points in May to 83.
The survey showed that fewer Utahns expect interest rates to rise in coming months, down from 66 percent to 61 percent. That improved attitude was shaped partially, he said, by the 30-year fixed rate mortgage declining to 4.33 percent last week, the lowest since last November.
Job security appears strong.
Only 9 percent of respondents felt it was likely that, in the next two years, they would lose a job they wanted to keep. By contrast, 73 percent rated that prospect unlikely or very unlikely.
Opinion was mixed about whether total household income would exceed the pace of inflation over the next year.
The largest response, at 32 percent, said it could go either way, while 26 percent said it was likely their income increase would outstrip inflation and 42 percent said price hikes would exceed pay.
Neither the federal nor the state government drew passing marks in the survey.
Although 38 percent said the Herbert Administration was doing a good job improving the economy, 44 percent thought it was doing only a fair job and 16 percent assessed the effort as poor.
The federal government did much worse. Its good rating was just 8 percent, while 59 percent rated its performance as poor and 31 percent said fair.
Anderson said retail sales were weaker than expected in April, especially at furniture, electronic and appliance stores. But if interest rates decline, these large-ticket items will become cheaper for consumers buying on credit.
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