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Connecticut Consumers Show Growing Confidence in State’s Economy and Business Conditions; Upbeat Attitudes Seen in Prospects for Next 6 Months

Residents Still Have Concerns, Ranging from Healthcare Costs to Job Prospects

Connecticut residents are increasingly upbeat about the state’s economy, expressing more optimism about business conditions and the prospects for an improving economy than has been seen in years.

Nearly 8 in 10 residents (77%) say overall business conditions in Connecticut are better off, or the same, compared with six months ago. That’s the highest percentage since 2016, according to the latest quarterly InformCT Connecticut Consumer Confidence Survey. The percentage who say conditions are better has increased for three consecutive quarters and is the highest since the first quarter of 2016.

The survey also found that 76 percent of consumers expect business conditions will be better, or the same, six months from now. That is a slight one percentage point increase from last quarter, but a 9 percentage point increase from a year ago. This also marks the fourth consecutive quarter that the percentage who predict worsening business conditions has diminished, now dipping to less than one in four (24%) for the first time since 2016.

The survey of state residents also found that nearly one-third (31%) feel the Connecticut economy is improving, up from 24 percent last quarter and 21 percent last year. That is the highest percentage to express that level of optimism since the first quarterly survey (33%) in the beginning of 2015. The percentage who disagree that the state economy is improving has dropped for four consecutive quarters and now stands at 43 percent. It peaked at 56 percent in the second quarter last year.

Regarding the state’s employment situation, 23 percent believe “there are plenty of jobs for anyone who wants one,” the highest percentage to hold that view in the 14 quarterly surveys since 2015. And just over half of state residents (54%) believe “there are some jobs but not enough,” the lowest percentage since 2015. Less than one in four (23%) now say that “jobs are very hard to get.”

The percentage of residents who described Connecticut as a good place to live and raise a family is also climbing. In the second quarter 2018 survey, 55 percent expressed that opinion, up from 49 percent last quarter and the highest percentage in more than a year (4th quarter, 2016).

InformCT is a public-private partnership that provides independent, non-partisan research, analysis, and public outreach to help create fact-based dialogue and action in Connecticut. The survey, conducted quarterly since 2015, is administered by researchers from the Connecticut Economic Resource Center, Inc.

Reflecting a somewhat more upbeat attitude, just over two-thirds (68%) say they are likely to take a vacation outside Connecticut during the next six months, up from 63 percent last year. Also, more people say they are likely to refinance their home or buy a new one (18%, up from 14% last quarter and 13% last year), buy a new car (30%, up one percentage point from last year and six from last year), or make a major consumer expenditure (40%, up from 34% a year ago). The percentage anticipating a major consumer
expenditure, such as furniture, and those who expect to purchase a car in the next 6 months, has increased for three consecutive quarters.

Yet, 40 percent indicate they are likely to move out of Connecticut in the next five years, 34 percent are concerned that their job or their partner/spouse’s job is in jeopardy, and only 22 percent believe they will have enough money to retire comfortably, down from 25 percent last quarter. In addition, concerns about being able to afford health insurance continue to remain strong, with 59 percent indicating that concern, generally consistent with recent quarterly surveys.

For only the second time since the third quarter of 2016, the percentage who say it is unlikely they will move out of Connecticut in the next five years is slightly larger than the percentage who expect to move out. The breakdown in the latest survey is 42-40, with 18 percent not sure.

Regarding personal finances, 32 percent say they’re better off now than 6 months ago – the highest percentage in the survey’s three years, tied with the second and third quarters of 2016. Nearly half of survey respondents, 46 percent, expect their personal finances to be “better off” six months from now – the highest percentage to express that view since the quarterly survey began in 2015. Only 12 percent expect their personal financial situation to worsen, while 42 percent expect their personal finances to remain about the same.

The online survey of 505 state residents, conducted in late June 2018, has a margin of error of 4 percent.