GAINESVILLE, Fla. – July 31, 2018 – Consumer sentiment among Floridians increased in July 2.1 points to 99.8 from June's revised figure of 97.7.

After a consistent decline across all five components that make up the index in June, four increased and one decreased in July.

Perceptions of personal financial situations now compared with a year ago increased 2.2 points this month from 91.2 to 93.4. Similarly, opinions as to whether it's a good time to buy a big-ticket household item like an appliance increased 1.9 points from 103.0 to 104.9.

While each overall component increased, changes varied across the two components by demographic group for little apparent reason. For example, Floridians with an income of $50,000 and over were more pessimistic regarding their personal financial situation – but this group also reported the highest increase in confidence when asked about whether now is a good time to buy a major household item.

Changes in the three components that compose future expectations were mixed. Expectations of personal financial situation a year from now went up 3.5 points from 102.9 to 106.4 – however, expectations of U.S. economic conditions over the next year went down three-tenths of a point from 97.4 to 97.1.

Finally, expectations of U.S. economic conditions over the next five years increased 3.5 points from 93.7 to 97.2.

"Despite the slight decline in the expectations about the national economy in the short-run, Floridians' future expectations improved greatly in this month's reading," says Hector H. Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF's Bureau of Economic and Business Research. "Similarly, perceptions of current economic conditions improved in July. Notably, the gain in overall expectations and perceptions of the economy is shared by all Floridians, with the exception of those aged 60 and older."

Economic indicators in Florida have remained largely positive. Florida's labor market continued strengthening with monthly statewide job gains. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Florida had the largest net gain of private sector jobs of any state in the last quarter of 2017. In June, 170,500 jobs were added statewide compared with a year ago, an increase of 2 percent.

Among all industries, leisure and hospitality gained the most jobs, followed by construction, professional and business services, and education and health services. The unemployment rate in Florida remained unchanged at 3.8 percent in June. Furthermore, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Florida's gross domestic product increased 2.5 percentage points in the first quarter of 2018 compared with the fourth quarter of 2017 and ranked 11th in the nation when compared with a year ago.

"Despite the ups and downs experienced by the index over the last 12 months, consumer sentiment has followed a slightly upward trajectory," says Sandoval. "The average consumer sentiment in the first six months of 2018 is 2.3 points higher than the average of the last six months of 2017, and 2.7 points higher than the average of the first six months of 2017."

Sandoval predicts that consumer confidence in Florida will "continue this upward trend in the following months, although more fluctuations are expected as a result of the uncertainty that might arise as the midterm elections approach."

Conducted July 1-26, the UF study reflects the responses of 390 individuals who were reached on cellphones, representing a demographic cross section of Florida.

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