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Utah consumers are confident in their present economic situation but expressing a little more concern about the future. The Zions Bank Utah Consumer Attitude Index (CAI) increased 1.1 points to 111.4 in August. The increase resulted from greater confidence in the present economy, which more than offset a slight decline in confidence in the future economic situation.

Utah consumers are confident in their present economic situation but expressing a little more concern about the future. The Zions Bank Utah Consumer Attitude Index (CAI) increased 1.1 points to 111.4 in August. The increase resulted from greater confidence in the present economy, which more than offset a slight decline in confidence in the future economic situation.

The overall CAI currently sits 0.3 points higher than its level 12 months ago. By comparison, the national Consumer Confidence Index increased 4.4 points from July to August and currently sits at 101.1. 

The Present Situation Index, a sub-index of the CAI that measures how consumers feel about current economic conditions, increased 5.9 points from July to August and is 6.5 points higher than it was at this time last year. Utahns believe the general business environment is becoming more favorable, with 57 percent of them rating business conditions in their area as good — a 3 percent increase from last year. In another category of the Present Situation Index, confidence in the labor market remains fairly steady. Eleven percent of Utahns describe available jobs in their area as hard to get, remaining essentially unchanged from July.

Expectations for the next six months decreased 2.1 points in August due to a slightly more negative outlook on future business conditions. The percentage of Utahns who think business conditions will be worse in six months increased from 8 percent to 11 percent in August. Forty-one percent of Utahns believe the U.S. economy is unlikely to improve during the next 12 months, a 9 percent increase from July. Meanwhile, the outlook for the labor market has remained fairly steady. Fifteen percent of Utahns think there will be fewer jobs available in their area six months from now, remaining mostly unchanged since July. Utahns are slightly more confident in their job security, as 79 percent believe they are unlikely to lose a job they want to keep, compared to 78 percent in July.

“With unemployment falling and job creation on the rise, Utah’s economy is firing on all cylinders,” said Scott Anderson, president and CEO of Zions Bank. “Though, understandably, Utahns retain a bit of uncertainty about the near future with the election on the horizon, they remain optimistic about the current state of our region’s robust economic growth.”

Utahns are slightly less confident in the future market value of personal retirement savings, with 38 percent of consumers believing $1,000 invested in their 401(k) is likely to be worth more than $1,000 a year from now — a 6 percent decline from July. Furthermore, fewer consumers predict they will make major expenditures in the near future, as 28 percent of Utahns are likely to purchase a major household item in the next 60 days — a 3 percent decline from July.

Gasoline prices, which fell through most of June and July, increased slightly in late August, spurred by a weakening dollar. Refinery output was also been lower than expected due in part to recent flooding in Louisiana and a refinery fire in Texas. The average gasoline price in Utah stood at $2.28 last week, while the national average stood at $2.22 per gallon. Most Utah consumers expect gasoline prices to rise over the next 12 months with 63 percent thinking gasoline prices will increase by an average of 54 cents per gallon. Only 7 percent of Utahns expect gasoline prices to go down over the next year. Oil prices decreased through most of July before rising in August. 

Although inflation has slowed in recent months, 62 percent of Utahns expect prices for consumer goods in general to rise during the next 12 months, compared to 61 percent in July. More Utahns expect interest rates to rise, as well, with 58 percent of Utahns believing interest rates for borrowing money will increase in the next 12 months, compared to 53 percent in July.

Satisfaction with the steps taken by the federal government to improve the overall economy of the U.S. decreased slightly, with 51 percent of Utahns indicating belief that the federal government is doing a poor job compared to 45 percent in July. Approval of the state government is relatively higher, with 44 percent of Utahns saying the state is doing a good job improving the overall state economy, remaining virtually unchanged from July’s figure. 

Utahns are slightly more confident in their housing investments compared to July, as 66 percent of residents believe the price of homes in their communities will increase over the next year, up from 65 percent in July. Additionally, 36 percent of Utahns believe it is likely they will be able to retire and maintain their living standards, a 1 percent increase since July. 

Analysis and data collection for the CAI are done for Zions Bank by the Cicero Group, a market research firm based in Salt Lake City.