Jobs market sinks consumer confidence in Florida

By Palm Beach

DELRAY BEACH — Consumer confidence nationally and in Florida dropped in July despite a preponderance of good economic news, according to separate reports released Tuesday.

The one negative factor: the sucking chest wound that is the jobs market.

The University of Florida’s statewide consumer confidence index dropped two points to 67. A year ago, the index sat at 61.

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index fell to 46.6 from 49.3 in June.

“Given that the stock market is now up for the year and housing is showing strong signs of stabilizing, I would attribute much of this decline to the news about employment,” Survey Director Chris McCarty said.

Unemployment in Florida hit 10.6 percent in June, while the rate in Palm Beach County hit 11.1 percent. Nationally, the Labor Department reported the unemployment rate at 9.4 percent. Those numbers likely understate the problem by a fair margin, since unemployment rates don’t include workers who have given up their job search.

"Consumer confidence, which had rebounded strongly in late spring, has faded in the last two months,” said  Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center:

Franco cited the worsening job market as a primary force pushing confidence lower; the percent of consumers claiming jobs are hard to get rose sharply during the month. Compounding the problem: more consumers don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel economically speaking.

“More consumers are pessimistic about their income expectations, which does not bode well for spending in the months ahead," Franco said.

In Florida, absent a major hurricane, the jobs market will continue to be the major factor in the confidence picture, McCarty said. The current debate over health care reform also could be a wildcard.

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JULY 28, 2009 click to go home
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