Utah consumer attitudes settle in April following all-time high

Following a record high in March, the Zions Bank Utah Consumer Attitude Index decreased 15.4 points to 114.1 in April, the largest single-month drop since Zions Bank and Cicero Group began tracking consumer attitudes in Utah in 2011.

Year-over-year changes remain positive, with the Utah Consumer Attitude Index increasing 1.5 points since April of last year.  In comparison, the national Consumer Confidence Index® increased 1.7 points to 128.7 this month and is 8.4 points higher than it was at this same time last year.

Overall the CAI has remained above 110 for the twenty-third consecutive month, marking nearly two years of positive economic sentiment within the state.  This month’s measure is significant given it comes during a period of increased interest rates, stock market volatility, and significant global economic trade tensions — issues which can affect consumer sentiment broadly.  

In April, the Utah Present Situation Index decreased 11.0 points to 123.2 while the Utah Expectations Index decreased 18.3 points to 108.0. Seasonal effects are partly responsible for the change, as statewide consumer sentiment has typically decreased from March to April, with March often one of the strongest performing months of the year. 

Data from the monthly survey also indicates this month’s drop in the index is due to Utahns generally feeling more “normal” about the economy, as opposed to previous levels of significant positivity. Specific areas where expectations decreased include in perceptions of future job availability, household income, and general business conditions. More Utahns indicate that conditions will be “the same in the next six months” as opposed to better than they currently are, which suggests a general leveling out of expectations.

In general, 58 percent of Utahns still feel that jobs are plentiful in Utah, the same as last month and an increase of 8 percent from April 2017.  Additionally, 55 percent consider business conditions to be good, down 4 percent compared to last month.

Utahns in general still maintain a positive outlook, with those feeling that future economic conditions will improve outnumbering those who think conditions will worsen by more than four to one.

“The job growth rate in Utah was the highest in the nation last month, at 3.3 percent,” said Scott Anderson, president and CEO of Zions Bank. “That type of growth indicates a vibrant economy, and this growth continues to fuel positive economic sentiment within the state.”

“We have seen a leveling out of expectations in April,” said Randy Shumway, chairman and partner of Cicero Group. “I do not think this is Utahns saying things are getting worse, rather it appears to be a recognition that the economy has been so strong it is hard to imagine it getting even better. Utah consumers are saying ‘things are good and we expect the economy to remain that way.’”

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.