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Quarterly Consumer Confidence Survey Suggests Pessimism about State Economic Conditions

 Alissa DeJonge, Vice President of Research, shares highlights from the
2Q 2017 InformCT Consumer Confidence Survey.

 

(Statewide) - After several quarters of increasing optimism about economic conditions in Connecticut, responses to the Q2 2017 InformCT Consumer Confidence Survey suggest pessimism about overall business conditions in the state. The survey results also indicate concerns about personal finances, with more respondents suggesting they would not make big purchases or were concerned about future expenses compared to the last several quarters.

The survey is released by InformCT, a public-private partnership that provides independent, non-partisan research, analysis, and public outreach to help create fact-based dialogue and action in Connecticut. Administered by researchers from the Connecticut Economic Resource Center, Inc. and Smith & Company, the analysis is based on the responses of residents across Connecticut and addresses key economic issues, providing a glimpse of the public’s views. The survey of 505 state residents has a margin of error of 4%.

Thirty-five percent of respondents thought overall business conditions were worse in the state now compared to six months ago – an increase of eight percentage points from last quarter and 10 percentage points from Q4 2016. While 35% of respondents at this time last year also felt the state’s economy was worse than the prior six months, current findings show the highest shares of negative responses since the survey began in 2015.

 

 

In addition, one-third of respondents this quarter predicted that overall business conditions would be worse in the state in six months, compared to 25% saying this last quarter and 27% during Q2 2016. A smaller share (23%) thought conditions would be better in six months compared to last quarter (30%) and last year at this time (25%). These results were consistent with the percentage of respondents who agree that the state economy was improving (21%, the lowest level since the survey began), while 55% disagree that the state economy is improving (up from 44% last quarter, and the highest percentage since the survey started).

Similar perceptions of the state’s economic condition were not reflected in concerns about employment. Less than a quarter of respondents (24%) said jobs were very hard to get now compared to six months ago, consistent with last quarter (23%) and down from 33% one year ago, while 15% said there were plenty of jobs now compared to six months ago (an increase of four percentage points from Q2 2016). There was also a slight decrease of those concerned that their or their spouse/partner’s job was in jeopardy (36% this quarter, compared to 39% last year at this time).

Forty-one percent of respondents thought their personal financial situation was about the same now compared to six months ago, with an even split between those who thought they were better off versus worse off (30% and 29%, respectively). This was an increase in those who said their personal financial situation was the same last year (36%). However, this stability is not reflected in purchasing plans -- fewer respondents said they were likely:

  • to take a vacation outside the state in the next six months compared to one year ago (63% versus 71%);
  • to refinance their home in the next six months compared to last quarter and last year at this time (13% versus 19% in both time periods);
  • to purchase a new car in the six months compared to last quarter and last year (24% versus 32% and 31%, respectively);
  • or to make a major consumer expenditure compared to last quarter and last year (32% versus 46% and 41%, respectively).

Respondents were also more concerned about affording health insurance (63%, up from 60% last quarter and 56% from the previous quarter) and about having enough money to retire comfortably (53%, up 9 percentage points from last quarter).