Utahns are confident in the job market while some are unsure of whether wages are keeping up with costs

The Zions Bank Utah Consumer Attitude Index increased 1.4 points to 114.9 in August.

Year-over-year the CAI is one-tenth of a point below the level of 115.0 measured in August last year.  In comparison, the national Consumer Confidence Index® increased 5.5 points to 133.4 this month and is 10.5 points higher than what was reported in August 2017.

The Utah Present Situation Index increased 6.3 points to 130.3 which represents the fourth time that this Index has exceeded 130 since Zions Bank began tracking consumer attitudes across Utah in 2011. Utahns are most confident about the employment outlook, with a record low 8.5 percent of Utahns indicating jobs are hard to get. Additionally, Utahns’ assessment of general business conditions has held steady for the last 12 months.

The Utah Expectations Index slipped 1.9 points to 104.7 and is down 1.7 points year-over-year. Utahns’ expectations for future income and future business conditions have tempered relative to current conditions as 32 percent of Utahns believe their household income will increase, down eight percent from 40 percent in August 2017.

Utahns are noticing increases in the prices of both homes and consumer goods and expect these prices to continue increasing. Three-fourths of Utahns (75 percent) expect home price increases while two-thirds (67 percent) expect an increase in consumer goods prices in the next twelve months.  These price expectations have also affected how Utahns think about their future income relative to prices as four percent fewer Utahns see their household income increasing by more than the rate of inflation over the next two years.

“Utahns are optimistic about Utah’s rapid job growth,” said Scott Anderson, Zions Bank president and CEO. “The perception is that jobs generally are plentiful and this contributes to a positive economic outlook throughout the State. The key challenge going forward will be to manage the increase in housing costs and the effects that creates.”  

“One of the goals of economic policy is to keep wage growth and prices commensurate,” said Randy Shumway, chairman and partner of Cicero Group. “We’re seeing continued growth in the job market and some competition for employees.  We are also seeing price increases in the cost of housing. Although it can seem like growth is good for the economy, it is possible to see job growth focused on lower-wage jobs that don’t improve incomes. That is not the problem here in Utah.  When we look at what jobs we are creating and attracting to the State, the data is actually pretty good. Wage growth is helping to mitigate the effects of price increases.”

Zions Bank provides the CAI as a free resource to the communities of Utah. 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.