Consumer confidence remains strong, fueled by positive expectations around jobs and income growth

The Zions Bank Utah Consumer Attitude Index (CAI) increased 1.4 points in September to 116.4. Consumer confidence in Utah has registered above 110 since June last year, indicating that Utahns continue to be very optimistic about current economic conditions within the state, as well as optimistic about the economy’s future trajectory.

The overall CAI currently sits 3.2 points higher than its level 12 months ago. In comparison, the national Consumer Confidence Index® decreased 0.6 points to 119.8 this month and is 16.5 points higher than it was at this same time last year.

The majority of this month’s increase was fueled by Utahn’s positive attitudes toward future business conditions within the state, as well as toward the future outlook on household incomes statewide. Utahns also remain highly optimistic towards Utah’s robust job market, and believe the market will continue to expand within the state, as the technology and housing sectors continue their historical growth.

The future course of the job market within Utah has not only increased consumer attitudes statewide, but has also led to mass migration into the state. According to 2016 census bureau estimates, Utah’s population has grown more than 2 percent since 2015. According to the Utah Policy Institute, net migration (in-migration minus out-migration) contributed to 42 percent of Utah’s population growth.

Utah’s strong economy apparently is handling recent influxes in statewide population very well: employment growth has grown 2.8 percent since August of last year, putting Utah well above the national mark of 1.5 percent. Much of the state’s employment growth has occurred within construction and professional and business services sectors.

“Utah’s current rate of economic expansion is attracting large amounts of capital investment, as well as high productivity and skilled workers” said Scott Anderson, Zions Bank president and CEO. “Large population influxes bring several benefits to an economy, namely increased consumption, larger amounts of tax revenue and increases in business innovation.”

Although Utah’s recent economic expansion has largely benefitted citizens of the Beehive State, many Utahns are feeling the effects of economic growth in their everyday purchases. According to the Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index, prices are up 3.4 percent since August of last year. A significant amount of Utahns are feeling these price increases in many of their favorite recreational activities. According to the September Consumer Attitude Index survey, 23.2 percent of Utahns anticipate spending more this year compared to last year on recreational activities such as athletics, music, performing arts, volunteer work, academic or professional organizations, cultural activities, and other hobbies.

Despite recent increases in statewide prices, consumers are confident that household incomes will continue to rise, as well as investments in home equity:

  • Thirty-seven percent of Utahns believe that their total household income will be higher six months from now, up 4 percent from a year earlier.
  • Seventy-one percent of Utahns believe that the price of homes like theirs will increase over the next 12 months, up 8 percent from a year earlier.

Utahns also are optimistic about the future trajectory of the national economy:

  • Thirty-five percent of Utahns believe that it is likely that the national economy will improve during the next 12 months, up 13 percent from September of last year.

“I am impressed by Utah’s sustained employment growth, especially within the professional and business services sector,” said Randy Shumway, chairman and partner of Cicero Group. “Utah is quickly making a name for itself as a business-friendly state with intelligent and highly skilled workers. I see no signs of Utah’s economy slowing down in future months.”

Zions Bank provides the CAI as a free resource to the communities of Utah. The monthly CAI summary reports are released at a monthly press conference, coinciding with The Conference Board’s national CCI release date. Analysis and data collection for the CAI are done by Cicero Group, a premier market research firm based in Salt Lake City.