Consumer index climbs to record level in Utah

By Jasen Lee, Deseret News

Published: Tue, July 29, 2014, 10:15 p.m. MDT

 Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake City.

(Ravell Call, Deseret News Archives)

SALT LAKE CITY — After a couple stagnant months, consumer attitudes in Utah are again on the rise.

The Zions Bank Utah Consumer Attitude Index climbed 6.6 points from June to July to register at 104.9 — the highest level since its inception. The index broke the 100-point barrier for the first time in April. The current mark represents a 19.4 point improvement over the past year.

Nationally, the July consumer confidence index rose to 90.9 — a 4.5 point jump from the previous month.

Zions Bank economic adviser Randy Shumway credited increased confidence in future economic conditions for the rise in consumer attitudes. In particular, optimism regarding Utah’s labor market played a big role in the uptick, he said.

The state’s jobless rate has fallen 1.1 percentage points over the past year, with the percentage of Utahns who believe jobs in their career field are “plentiful” rose to 32 percent — up 11 percentage points for the year-over-year period, Shumway said.

Looking ahead six months, the percentage of Utahns who believe more jobs will be available in their field increased 5 percentage points to 29 percent in July, he noted.

The report showed that the present situation index — a reflection of consumers' attitudes about current economic conditions — rose 1.5 points to 103.4, a record high for the index. The present situation index has jumped 19 points over the past 12 months, the report stated.

The expectations index — a reflection of consumer expectations for economic conditions six months from now — climbed 10.1 points to register at 105.9 in July. The index has increased nearly 20 points year-over-year.

Conducted by The Cicero Group, the monthly consumer attitude index is based on a representative sample of 500 Utah households at a confidence interval of plus or minus 4.38 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.

Shumway said the improved consumer attitudes bode well for the foreseeable future in the Beehive State. Noting that achieving a level of 110 points would constitute the optimal level of consumer confidence, he said it would not be surprising to reach that height by year's end.

"Barring a catastrophe like increased conflict with Russia, increased escalations in the Middle East or a big drop in the stock market, the fundamentals are in place for consumer confidence to exceed 110 in Utah in the coming months," Shumway said.

E-mail: jlee@deseretnews.com, Twitter: JasenLee1

1. Kaotic
July 29, 2014

A lot of fast food joints have been hiring for the summer...part time, minimum wage. Utah is in such an economic boom from these job increases. If two part-time jobs take the place of 1 full time job, the economy will sky-rocket. Don't kid yourself with these overhyped reports. The economy in Utah is horrible too. Utah is near the bottom in hourly wages paid to it's labor force and the price of everything to survive keeps going up.

2. My2Cents
Taylorsville, UT,
July 30, 2014

So how are these studies offsetting the loss of 35%+ of the consumers with bankruptcy's in Utah have so much debt they are being fired from their jobs? How is this study compensating for losing 35% of its customers and shoppers who used credit and debit cards to buy goods and services and food? Can the business and economy of Utah lose 35% of its customers and still maintain that prosperity and spending are climbing?

Government is the only consumer spending more than it has and government spending is infiltrating and tainting the CPI. If you discount government spending you will get a lot different picture of the true economy.

People with jobs in a chosen career think jobs are plentiful until they lose their job and have to work at McDonald who's average worker is over 35 years old. The problem with jobs in technology and computer programing is it has a limited lifetime and when one game is no longer popular the company who creates it is no longer needed. Since most technology jobs don't produce anything but intellectual property they don't have a product to sell.

The CPI of Utah is a fake.

3. Kings Court
Alpine, UT,
July 30, 2014

Thanks for the bad news, Obama!

4. Lowonoil
Clearfield, UT,
July 30, 2014

According to Zions Bank, if you are reluctant to spend you have a bad attitude.