SALT LAKE CITY, Utah; February 28, 2012 — In February, the Zions Bank Consumer Attitude Index (CAI) rose five points to 84.8, the highest level recorded since the index debuted.
The national Consumer Confidence Index® (CCI) increased 9.3 points to 70.8. Recent traction in the economic recovery has facilitated a surge in optimism this month as more Utahns adopt a favorable view of the economy. The findings were released at a news conference at the Fanzz sports apparel store in the Gateway Mall, where Fanzz General Manager Steve Eliason also shared thoughts on recent trends among shoppers.
In February, the economy continued to show signs of improvement, giving consumers more reasons to be optimistic. The bullish stocks on Wall Street, as well as the continued improvements in the labor market, have consumer attitudes in the state at an all-time high. “I feel as if this is it, that we are out of the woods and ready for real economic growth,” said Tim Buckner, a resident of Ogden, Utah. Similar optimism was shared throughout the state this month, causing a variety of economic perceptions to improve.
The Zions Bank Present Situation Index, which is a snapshot of current business conditions and employment, jumped 11.8 points to 61.2. Nationally, the CCI Present Situation Index increased 6.2 points to 45. The Zions Bank Expectations Index for six months from now — which is the best predictor of the direction of consumer spending — remained largely unchanged at 100.5, while the national CCI Expectations Index increased 11.3 points to 88.
Utahns’ assessment of the economic recovery improved this month as fewer consumers showed signs of discouragement. Approximately 29 percent of Utahns indicated that U.S. economy is likely to improve during the next year, as opposed to 13 percent just three months ago. The recent jump in consumer confidence has left many Utahns more optimistic in a variety of economic areas, including real estate, investment, government, and the labor market.
In January, the U.S. housing market showed signs of improvement as previously occupied home sales rose. Last month’s increase in home sales has reduced the number of homes on the market to its lowest point in roughly seven years. For Utahns, optimism continues to grow in regards to the future health of the housing market. Thirty-nine percent of Utahns, compared to 31 percent the month prior, foresee home prices increasing during the next year.
Utahns’ assessment of labor market conditions has also improved from last month, showing that a growing number of residents believe job growth in the state is improving. Since August, Utah’s unemployment rate has dropped from 7.6 percent to 6 percent in December. Job confidence among residents has continued to grow in recent months, which is a strong indicator of increased optimism in respect to future labor market growth.
“Economic confidence is rising among Utahns,” said Zions Bank President and CEO Scott Anderson. “In the past 12 months, Utahns’ confidence in their present situation has risen almost 64 percent. As sentiment rises, increases in consumer spending will likely follow, helping facilitate further economic growth in the state.”
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 www.zionsbank.com/cai. 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 March CAI will be released during a press conference at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in the City Creek Center at 10:30 a.m. on March 27, 2012.
About Zions Bank
Zions Bank, a division of ZB, N.A., operates 122 full-service financial centers throughout Utah and Idaho. In addition to offering a wide range of traditional banking services, Zions Bank is also a leader in small business lending and has consistently ranked as the No. 1 lender of U.S. Small Business Administration 7(a) loans in Utah for the past 23 years and Idaho’s Boise District for the past 15 years. Founded in 1873, Zions Bank has been serving the communities of the Intermountain West for more than 140 years. Additional information is available at www.zionsbank.com.