The Zions Bank Utah Consumer Attitude Index (CAI) increased 1.7 points to 113.6 in July. In comparison, the national Consumer Confidence Index® increased 0.3 points to 127.4 this month.
The Utah Present Situation Index decreased 2.8 points to 124.0 from June to July while the Utah Expectations Index rose 4.7 points to 106.6 across the same period, the first increase to the Utah Expectations Index in three months. Utahns’ expectations for the Utah economy improved across each of the three indicators: business conditions, job availability, and household income. The largest increase was Utahns’ heightened confidence that their future income will increase over the next 6 months. Increases were also seen in the percentage of Utahns who indicated they expect more jobs to be available and business conditions to be better six months from now.
Year-over-year the Present Situation Index improved by 1.6 from July 2017 to July 2018. Additionally, Utahns’ confidence in job availability is at the highest point it has ever been since Zions Bank began the Utah Consumer Attitude Index in 2011, with 63 percent believing jobs are currently plentiful and only 9 percent feeling jobs are hard to get.
Even with positive signs for business conditions, increasing interest rates and the increasing cost of living are still weighing on Utahns’ minds. 41 percent of Utah consumers believe it is unlikely that their household income will increase by more than the rate of inflation during the next two years.
“There are many positive economic signs for Utah,” said Scott Anderson, Zions Bank president and CEO. “Unemployment is at 3.0 percent, well below the national average, and job growth is high at 3.4 percent, well above the national average. Utah has robust growth across most industries and counties. Additionally, 50 percent of Utahns feel their state government is doing a good job with the economy, one of the highest levels in recent history. These are all promising signs that Utah will continue as one of the states with the strongest growth in the nation.”
“The current job growth and employment situation are important to a good outlook for consumers,” said Randy Shumway, chairman and partner of Cicero Group. “But the future outlook for consumers is arguably even more important to their spending habits than the present outlook is. If workers are confident that they’ll have a stable job and good and increasing wages in the future then their spending habits will reflect that positive outlook. As good as consumers see things right now, there are about twice as many people confident in their present situation compared to those who are confident in their future situation. This is not a bad thing, especially when such a high proportion of the population feels job availability and business conditions are good. What it does mean is that with a job market that is driving as fast as it is, some feel that it likely can’t get much better. Another good sign is how few of people feel things are going to get worse. For example, only 6 percent feel that business conditions are going to get worse.”
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.