UF survey: Consumer confidence at lowest level in 16 years


Published: Tuesday, January 29, 2008 at 12:25 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 29, 2008 at 12:25 p.m.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - A University of Florida survey has found consumer confidence dipped to its lowest level in more than 15 years.

Economists at the university's Survey Research Center at the Bureau of Economic and Business Research said one measure in particular consumers' confidence about national economic conditions dropped to the lowest point since August of 1992.

The overall measure of how confident consumers are in Florida slipped in January to the lowest level in 16 years.

"Consumer confidence in Florida reflects the same conditions we had during the recession of 1990-91," said Chris McCarty, director of UF's Survey Research Center. "Florida is almost certainly in a recession now, and the country is not far behind. Most economists agree that we are in for at least two quarters of very low growth."

Four of the five measures in the index dropped.

In addition to confidence in the national economy, perceptions of how strong the economy will be over the next five years and expectations about personal finances a year from now also dipped from where they were last month. Perception of whether it is a good time to buy big-ticket consumer items also fell.

The center conducts the Florida Consumer Attitude Survey monthly.

The only component of the survey that went up was perceptions of personal finances now compared with a year ago.

McCarty said there's hope that an economic stimulus package under consideration in Congress could negate some effects of the housing slump and could help get customers back in stores, which could make for a milder and shorter recession.

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