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2011-02-23 00:00:18
Consumer attitude about economy improving
Consumer attitude about economy improving
February 22nd, 2011 @ 8:39pm
By Jasen Lee


SALT LAKE CITY — In an old 'Saturday Night Live' skit starring Billy Crystal, the renowned comedian played old-school Hollywood heartthrob Fernando Lamas conducting an interview show. His famous line from the skit was, 'You look marvelous!'


That could sum up the attitude of Utah consumers on the potential for economic growth, according to a new report.


While the Zions Bank Utah Consumer Attitude Index for February remained almost flat at 75.6 compared to January’s CAI numbers, the Expectations Index came in at 101.1 — an indication of strong optimism, according to Zions Bank analysts.


'(The Expectations Index suggests) that the majority of consumers believe that the economy is expected to pick up,' said Randy Shumway, president and chief executive officer of The Cicero Group/Dan Jones Associates. The index has risen just 50 points in the past two years, Shumway said, meaning consumer attitudes have improved greatly over that span.


He said the index is a 'proxy for consumers' expected changes in business conditions, jobs and personal income n Utah.'


Meanwhile, the Present Situation Index — a snapshot of current business conditions and employment for the state — stands at 37.4, indicating consumers' current attitudes are that the economy is still 'precarious.'


But overall, Shumway said consumer attitudes have improved in recent months as the economy has become more stable.


'(The economy) is still below the optimal … 90 points or higher,' he said. 'When you exceed 100, you're in a growth economy.'


The Utah Present Situation Index (37.4) was higher compared to 33.4 for the U.S.; and the state Expectations Index (101.1) outpaced the U.S. index of 95.1.


The Zions Bank CAI is based on a representative sample of 500 Utah households.  The monthly survey is conducted by The Cicero Group/Dan Jones & Associates. The cutoff date for January’s results was Feb. 15.


Shumway said the CAI will likely continue to rise as the state and national employment situations improve.


'I was asked last month, 'What will improve the Consumer Attitude Index the most?'' he said. 'Three things: job creation, number one; job creation, number two; and job creation, number three.'


'If you want to see the number one lever towards overall attitudes, it's going to be job creation,' Shumway said. 

Courtesy of KSL.com

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