Consumer attitudes in Utah remain positive, continuing a year-long trend.
The Zions Bank Utah Consumer Attitude Index (CAI) rose 0.8 points from July to August, reaching 115. The index has been above 110 since June 2016, indicating that Utahns continue to be very optimistic about current economic conditions within the state, as well as optimistic about the future.
The overall CAI is 3.5 points higher than it was a year ago, while the national Consumer Confidence Index rose 2.9 points from July to August to 122.9, which is 21.8 points higher than a year earlier.
Among the reasons cited for Utah’s consumer attitudes is the state’s robust job market, fueled by expansion within the technology and housing sectors. The index also indicated, however, that many residents may be noticing that the cost of living is rising, a possible byproduct of the recent economic expansion.
Zions noted that a U.S. News report shows that Utah’s economy is ranked 29th in total affordability, a calculation based on cost of living and housing affordability. Housing prices within Utah have increased by more than 10 percent since June of last year. Although increases in housing prices may be leading to higher costs within the state, there is an economic benefit to their growth, it said.
“Expansion within the housing market is a good sign that the economy has recovered since the recent economic downturn,” Scott Anderson, Zion’s Bank chief executive officer and president, said in announcing the index figures. “Home equity is a large share of many Utahns’ net worth, and as homes become more valuable, homeowners should see their wealth continue to increase.”
A recent Zions Consumer Price Index showed the cost of living in Utah is higher than a year ago, up 3.4 percent. The August CAI survey indicated that 32 percent of Utahns planned to spend more on school supplies this year compared to last year.
Among the positive elements of the CAI is that consumers are confident that the job market will continue to expand, providing higher levels of household income in the future. Fifty-six percent of residents believe that jobs are plentiful within the state, up 7 percent from a year prior. Forty percent of Utahns believe that their total household income will be higher six months from now, up 5 percent from a year earlier.
Utahns continue to be optimistic about efforts of local officials to improve the statewide economy, and there is increasing optimism about the national economy as well. Forty-seven percent of residents believe the Utah state government is doing a good job of taking steps to improve Utah’s overall economy, up 3 percent from August last year. Thirty-eight percent of residents believe it is likely that the U.S economy will improve during the next 12 months, up 17 percent from August 2016.
“Consumer attitudes remain high within the state despite the moderate price increases that we have witnessed in recent months,” said Randy Shumway, chairman and partner of Cicero Group, which does analysis and data collection for the CAI. “As long as the Utah job market continues its current rate of expansion, and I see every indication that it will, there is no reason why consumers shouldn’t remain optimistic about the future of the statewide economy.”