Utahns’ growing confidence in the job market bolsters consumer attitudes overall

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The Zions Bank Utah Consumer Attitude Index (CAI) increased 2.1 points to 119.1 in December. The year-over-year CAI bumped up by 3.3 points. In comparison, the national Consumer Confidence Index® decreased 0.3 points to 126.5 this month.

The Utah Present Situation Index rose 3.6 points to 133.4 in December, driven by increased optimism regarding the current job market. In December, only 8% of Utahns believe that jobs are hard to get, down 2% since November and back to the lowest level recorded since November 2018. Utahns also believe business conditions are favorable; 95% of Utahns feel business conditions are either good or normal. The Utah Present Situation Index has increased 1.3 points since December 2018.

The Utah Expectations Index edged up by one point to 109.5 in December. Job availability was once again a bright spot as Utahns’ expectations improved compared to November. In December 12% of Utahns believe that there will be fewer jobs available six months from now, a 3% drop from last month.

Additionally, compared to December 2018, more Utahns are optimistic about their personal household income increasing; 39% of Utahns believe that their income will increase in the next six months, compared to 33% of Utahns who held that expectation one year ago.

Utahns’ positive perceptions regarding the job market are supported by strong fundamentals. The Utah Department of Workforce Services announced that Utah’s unemployment rate just dropped to the lowest level ever recorded in Utah at 2.4%, compared to the nation-wide unemployment rate of 3.5%. Additionally, job growth in Utah held steady at 3.3%, more than twice the national rate of 1.5%.

“It’s heartening to see such strong numbers regarding Utah’s job market,” said Scott Anderson, Zions Bank president and CEO. “Forbes just ranked Utah as the third-best state in the nation for business in 2019. And earlier this year, U.S. News ranked Utah as the fourth best state in the nation overall. The good signs for Utah’s economy keep coming and that bodes well for our residents.”

Economic uncertainty has inhibited some growth in 2019, as The Wall Street Journal noted earlier this month. Some of the largest contributors to uncertainty in the United States and around the world have been trade tensions and Brexit. Fortunately, these issues have recently made notable progress toward resolution.

“Global markets play an important role in Utah’s economy,” said Randy Shumway, chairman and partner of Cicero Group. “In 2018, international imports and exports equaled 16.6% of Utah’s GDP. That’s up 1.2% since 2017. Having more predictable international markets will allow businesses to plan and compete more aggressively.”

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.