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Utah consumers remain confident, new report states

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah consumers continue to believe more in their local economy than the national economic outlook, according a new report.

The Zions Bank Consumer Attitude Index for Utah increased to 85.3 in April, 5.4 points higher than the month prior — and its highest level ever. In contrast, the U.S. Consumer Confidence Index remained virtually unchanged, dropping 0.3 points this month.

Since December 2011, U.S. consumer confidence has appeared to plateau, while economic attitudes in the Utah have continued to climb, said Randy Shumway, chief executive officer of The Cicero Group.

Over the past six month, Utahns’ assessment of the present economic situation has increased 39 percent, while optimism toward the future has risen 20 percent, he added.

Based on a representative sample of 500 Utah households, the monthly survey is conducted by The Cicero Group/Dan Jones & Associates and has a confidence interval of plus or minus 4.38 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.

"Over the last six months, consumer confidence in every category measured by the Zions Bank CAI has improved — price expectations, government appraisal, personal finance, business conditions and employment," Shumway said.

In April, the Zions Bank Present Situation Index — a snapshot of current business conditions and employment — increased 10.9 points to 65.8. Nationally, the CCI Present Situation Index increased 1.5 points to 51.4. The Zions Bank Expectations Index for six months from now — which is the best predictor of the direction of consumer spending — increased 1.8 points to 98.4, while the CCI Expectations Index decreased 1.4 points to 81.1.

"Economists believe improvements in the housing market will ultimately depend on consumers’ willingness to purchase, which largely rests on perceived outlook and confidence toward the housing market," Shumway said. "This month, 43 percent of Utahns believe the housing market will improve over the next 12 months, compared to 26 percent six months ago."

April’s Zions Bank CAI reveals that a growing number of Utahns believe the labor market will continue to improve over the next six months, he said, noting that the number of residents describing current job opportunities as “plentiful” has doubled since October.

"Optimism toward the next six months has jumped 65 percent since last October," Shumway said. "Today, seven out of every 10 Utahns feel confident in their job security, which is an 11 percent increase from six months ago."