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Economic Anxiety Weighs Slightly on Consumer Confidence in Utah

Press Release

August 1, 2012

The Zions Bank Consumer Attitude Index (CAI) decreased 3.1 points to 76.7 in July. The U.S. Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) increased 3.2 points to 65.9, resulting in a 10.8 point difference between the two indices. The decrease in the CAI from June to July was within the margin of error, which highlights how downbeat economic news over the last four-to-six weeks has had little effect on consumer confidence locally. Utahns remain more optimistic than the rest of the country, as statewide employment growth buoys consumer attitudes.

Utah consumers were slightly less confident in both present and future economic conditions in July. The Zions Bank Present Situation Index — a measurement of confidence in current business and employment conditions — decreased 2.4 points in July, compared to a 0.4 point decrease nationally. Consumer sentiment regarding the current availability of employment opportunities was unchanged this month, but the proportion of consumers who view current business conditions negatively increased nearly five percentage points to 20 percent.

The Zions Bank Expectations Index — a gauge of consumer confidence in the economy six months from now — decreased 3.5 points last month, compared to 5.7 point increase nationally. Utah consumers feel less optimistic about general business conditions and employment in the next six months than they did a month ago, but are more optimistic that their income will increase by 2013.

Utahns had mixed attitudes toward their personal finances in July. While nearly a quarter of Utah consumers believe that their income will increase over the next six months, a five percentage point increase from June, only 18 percent of consumers believe that it is likely that their household income will outpace inflation over the next two years. Nearly 22 percent of consumers expect to purchase a major household appliance in the next 60 days, the highest proportion this year. Conversely, 23 percent of consumers think that they can maintain their standard of living after retirement, the lowest proportion in 2012.

Expectations of housing prices reflect the positive economic momentum that the sector has had for the last six months. More than 84 percent of Utahns believe that the price of homes like theirs will stay the same or increase over the next year, up two percentage points from last month and 15 percentage points from July of 2011.

“The latest jobs report delivered positive news on the state of economic growth in Utah,” said Zions Bank President and CEO Scott Anderson. “Employment levels expanded 2.6 percent from June of 2011, and over the last twelve months the state has added 32,000 new jobs. Utah added twice as many jobs as the national average in June, which helped keep consumer demand relatively strong. The fact that Utah is creating jobs in the face of slowing global demand speaks to the resiliency of the local business community. Zions Bank will continue to support the community and provide the most accurate economic analysis possible.”

Zions Bank provides the CAI as a free resource to the communities of Utah. The monthly CAI summary reports are released at a monthly press conference, coinciding with The Conference Board’s national CCI release date. The reports are available online at Analysis and data collection for the CAI are done by The Cicero Group/Dan Jones & Associates, a premier market research firm based in Salt Lake City. The August CAI will be released during a press conference at a local business at 10:30 a.m. on August 28, 2012.

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