Consumer attitudes remain high heading into 2018, expectations index on the rise

The Zions Bank Utah Consumer Attitude Index dipped slightly heading into the new year, decreasing 0.8 points from 118.7 in December to 117.9 in January.

After a record-setting month in December, the Utah Present Situation Index, a measure of confidence in current statewide economic conditions, decreased to 125.2 points in January from a level of 132.1 in December. In comparison, the national Consumer Confidence Index® increased 2.4 points to 125.4 this month and is 13.8 points higher than it was at this same time last year.

Reduced optimism regarding current perceptions of the Utah labor market drove the dip in the CAI heading into 2018, as more Utahns feel that the number of available jobs within the state are decreasing. According to CAI survey data, 55 percent of Utahns believe that job availability is “plentiful” within their area, down from 61 percent in December. However, Utahns are increasingly optimistic about the future trajectory of the labor market, as 91 percent of those surveyed feel that job availability will be equal to or greater than the current situation six months from now.

“Utah’s economy continues to grow as a result of robust local job creation,” said Scott Anderson, Zions Bank president and CEO. “Utah companies continue to develop, expand and grow, and our local economy has been nationally recognized as one of the fastest growing job markets in the country. Consumer sentiment seems to agree with this trend, and I don’t see any reason why this growth should not continue well into 2018.”

One area in particular where Utahns anticipate spending some of their wages may boost Utah’s growth. In the most recent CAI survey, more than 26 percent of Utahns indicated that they anticipate spending more this year on personal fitness than last year, compared to 13 percent who anticipate spending less. Utah historically has been considered one of the healthiest states in the nation, and personal health and fitness remains an important driver of worker productivity and overall economic output.  

Another area creating positive consumer sentiment is in the rise in home values. According to Corelogic’s housing price index, single family housing prices are up 10.5 percent year-over-year within Utah, a figure affecting statewide optimism toward the housing market. In the most recent CAI survey, 74 percent of Utahns stated that housing prices will likely increase over the next 12 months, a trend which tends to strengthen the economic condition of homeowners as their housing investment appreciates. 

“Increased optimism regarding the current and future trajectory of the Utah economy has boosted consumption as well as investments in housing and other goods statewide,” said Randy Shumway, chairman and partner of Cicero Group. “With high rates of consumption and investment and a healthy labor market, Utah is poised to continue its strong rate of growth this upcoming year.”

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 data-driven strategy and research firm based in Salt Lake City.