Floridians’ consumer confidence drops post-election

Published: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 11:54 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 11:54 a.m.

Republican pessimism over the election results and growing awareness of the “fiscal cliff” dragged down Floridians’ mood to spend in November, according to a University of Florida survey.

The Florida consumer confidence index dropped four points to 76 from a revised 80 in October.

Confidence among Republicans fell from 62 in October to 50 in November, while the levels for Democrats rose from 99 to 103.

“The main reason was the outcome of the elections,” said Chris McCarty, director of UF’s Survey Research Center in the Bureau of Economic and Business Research. “Florida was the most divided state in the country, with President Obama winning by 73,309 votes. No matter who won, half of the state was not going to be happy with the outcome.”

The index is benchmarked to a 1966 level of 100 and measures changes over time within a range of 2 and 150.

McCarty said November’s level was historically low, but still relatively high post-recession.

In addition to the election results, the survey reflects growing awareness of the “fiscal cliff” as media coverage has increased since the election on scheduled tax increases and government spending cuts in January unless Congress acts.

McCarty said Floridians should pay attention to how Congress handles the alternative minimum tax that would expand from 4 million to more than 30 million Americans and be calculated on this year’s tax bills.

“Those who rely on refunds to pay for holiday spending should consider that without congressional action, their refund could be delayed as the IRS makes adjustments.”

Among the survey’s five components, perceptions that personal finances are better now than a year ago dropped five points to 59, while expectations that they will improve over the next year fell five points to 80. Perceptions that now is a good time to buy big-ticket items remained at 79.

Confidence in U.S. economic conditions over the next year dropped three points to 82, while the outlook over the next five years fell six points to 80.

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