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Utah economy remains at optimal level despite slight decline in October

SALT LAKE CITY — The Zions Bank Utah Consumer Attitude Index recorded a little boo in October as confidence decreased 3.6 points, but officials aren't running in fright as the index still registers 120.5 — far above the 110 level that indicates optimal economic activity.

The October decline is due mostly to changing perceptions with regards to job availability, with 59 percent of Utahns feeling jobs are plentiful, down 5 percent from September, according to Chad Berbert, principal at Cicero Group, which collects the data. He noted that the Utah Present Situation Index is also lower, dropping 9.2 points to register at 131.1, after hitting a record-breaking level in September.

The Utah Expectations Index — an indicator of economic conditions six months from now — ticked up 0.2 points to register at 113.5 in October.

Utahns’ confidence in the U.S. economy overall has held high since December 2016, Berbert said. On average over the last 12 months, more Utahns believe it is likely the U.S. economy will improve rather than decline, he noted.

About 37 percent now believe it is likely the U.S. economy will improve during the next 12 months, versus 24 percent who feel it is unlikely the U.S. economy will improve over the same period, he said.

“One of the keys to a robust economy is that its factors of production, or its workers and businesses, are producing at potential,” said Randy Shumway, chairman and partner of Cicero Group. “There are several ways to measure this, including by job growth, unemployment, and real gross domestic product — a measure of how much value is produced. In Utah, not only has job growth been strong and unemployment low, but Utah’s real GDP growth has topped the nation as well.”

Zions Bank provides the index as a free resource to the communities of Utah. Analysis and data collection for the index is conducted by Cicero Group, a Salt Lake City-based research firm.

The national Consumer Confidence Index increased 2.6 points in October to register at 137.9.