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Florida consumer confidence approaching ‘new, normal high’ post recession


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New results from the Florida Consumer Attitude Survey show the Florida consumer confidence rate is near the previously recorded post-recession high. October’s rate is 79, which is one point lower than the post-recession high of 80 recorded in September.

The survey polls a random selection of 500 Floridian households each month. Household members are asked five questions about topics to help determine the consumer confidence, such as perceptions of personal finances now compared to a year ago, expectations of future finances and whether it is a good time to buy big ticket items.

Chris McCarty, the director of UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research, said the highest consumer confidence rate ever recorded was 111, and the lowest rate ever recorded was 59 during the recession in June 2008.

The rate is calculated with a formula that subtracts the negative responses from the positive responses. There is a multiplier to benchmark the rate to 1966. The lowest potential consumer confidence rate is 2, while the highest potential rate is 150.

“At 79, we’re nowhere near historical normal, but this is kind of a new, normal high in the post recession,” McCarty said.

The recession is recognized to have begun in December 2007 and to have ended in June 2009, according to McCarty. While negative aspects of the recession like the sluggish housing market are still being felt, the post recession has seen businesses making  profits.

The bureau looks at what happens month to month for factors that can influence the consumer confidence rate. This month showed  people are more pessimistic about buying conditions, but they are more optimistic about the future of the economy.

Once elections are over, McCarty said he thinks people will begin to hear more about the “fiscal cliff,” which may influence the rate in future months. The “fiscal cliff” refers to the situation the U.S. government must deal with at the end of 2012, such as the end of the temporary payroll tax cuts and the start of taxes related to President Obama’s health care law.

Cassandra Vangellow wrote this story for online.

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