Utahns’ confidence in the economy moderates slightly but remains strong

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The Zions Bank Utah Consumer Attitude Index (CAI) decreased 2.4 points to 113.3 in July. The year-over-year CAI ticked down slightly by 0.3 points. In comparison, the national Consumer Confidence Index® increased 11.4 points to 135.7 this month.

The Utah Present Situation Index dropped 3.6 points to 124.8 in July. Utahns’ attitude on current job availability worsened as 5% fewer Utahns feel jobs are plentiful (down to 61%) and 1% more feel that jobs are hard to get (up to 9%). Yet compared to July 2018, 5% more Utahns feel that business conditions are good (up to 64%). The Utah Present Situation Index is up 0.8 points since July 2018.

The Utah Expectations Index dipped 1.5 points to 105.5. Slightly more Utahns feel that business conditions will get worse in six months (up 1% to 9%) and that their household income will be lower in the next six months (up 3% to 6%). The Expectations Index has decreased 1.1 points since July 2018. Even so, many Utahns are optimistic about their income outlook; 38% feel their income will increase in the next six months. That’s the highest level reached since March 2018.

Though Utahns’ confidence is moderating somewhat, their expectations on job security is at one of the highest points of the past two years, with 81% feeling it is unlikely they will lose a job they want to keep. The highest recorded level of job security expectations since  this Index began in January 2011 is 84%, set in November 2016.

Utahns’ sentiment is in line with the state’s employment conditions; the Bureau of Labor Statistics just reported that Utah now has an unemployment rate of 2.8%, the lowest level in Utah since November 2007.

“There have been debates about the future of the economy, with some expressing very positive outlooks and others predicting another turndown,” said Scott Anderson, Zions Bank president and CEO. “We see some evidence of the polarization among Utahns, but to a much smaller extent than nationally. Mostly, Utahns are very positive about their state’s economy and have been that way for several years.”

During the summer months (June to August), 36% of Utahns spend more than they normally do the rest of the year (an average of $742 per month). Among those who spend more during the summer, 48% point to vacation or recreational spending as the biggest area of increase.

Among the 44% of Utah households with children at home, Utahns plan to spend an average of $830 on summer activities (e.g. day camps, lessons, etc.) for their children, or an average of $406 per child.

“Helping build up the future generation is an investment in the future of Utah,” said Randy Shumway, chairman and partner of Cicero Group. “It’s a positive sign of both the current and future state of the economy when parents are willing to spend on activities that encourage the learning and growth of their children. It shows that parents have the confidence to spend in discretionary areas for their children and that kids are being given opportunities to prepare for the future.”

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 management consulting firm focused on implementing data-driven strategies for a broad mix of private, public, and social sector organizations across the globe.