Florida consumer confidence unchanged for December

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Consumer confidence among Floridians was unchanged in December, down a bit from a peak in the fall, the University of Florida reported Thursday via David Royse of the News Service of Florida.

The UF Survey Research Center at the university’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research said conservatives who were unhappy with the November presidential election outcome generally remain gloomy about the economy, while those who supported President Obama are more upbeat.

The consumer confidence figure in December was 74, same as the revised November reading. The peak this year – which was a post-recession peak – was in September and October.

“In November there was a clear reaction to the outcome of the election with confidence among Democrats increasing and confidence among Republicans decreasing,” said center director Chris McCarty. “In December that is still true with confidence among Republicans at 49 and among Democrats at 103, about the same as November.”

Confidence was up for those under age 60 but down for those over age 60.

“This difference by age is even more pronounced when looking at expectations about personal finances a year from now,” he said.

Worry about the fiscal cliff in the federal budget remained another factor keeping confidence low, McCarty said. Floridians’ pessimism about the next year, both in perceptions of personal finances and expectations about the economy, was likely related to that.

Respondents’ expectation that personal finances will be sound a year from now dropped two points to 75, although perceptions of personal finances now compared to a year ago rose four points to 61, the survey center said. Confidence in the U.S. economy over the coming year fell six points to 73.

There was some optimism, however, about the current state of the economy in terms of whether it’s a good time to buy durable goods, such as washing machines. The confidence gauge on that question rose six points to 84.

There are several signs of economic recovery in Florida, including rising home prices and better housing sales. The state’s unemployment rate fell again in November by nearly a half a percentage point to 8.1 percent, the lowest level since the recession ended. The gap between Florida and U.S. unemployment is now only 0.4 percent.

And unlike in previous months, the November decline in Florida unemployment figures was not mainly the result of a decline in the labor force, McCarty noted. In November there was an increase in jobs and the labor force remained steady.

“Most economists believe that without the fiscal cliff the economy is on a solid path to recovery,” McCarty said.

Details of the December survey can be found at http://www.bebr.ufl.edu/cci.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.