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State Residents Are Less Optimistic About State Economy, Business Conditions Than Their Own Job and Finances

(Statewide) – Business conditions haven’t changed and aren’t about to in Connecticut, according to a survey of state residents, and those who believe that the state economy is improving has fallen to the lowest level in the past three years, now at just one in five residents.

But more than twice as many people believe their personal financial situation will be better six months from now, compared to those who believe they will be worse off. Meanwhile, only 31% – the lowest percentage in three years – are concerned that their job, or their partners’ job, is in jeopardy.

Only 20% agree that the economy is improving – down from 33% in the first quarter of 2015, and 29% as recently as the first quarter of 2017. Fifty percent of residents do not believe the economy is improving, and 30% aren’t sure.

The data was compiled for the fourth quarter of 2017 as part of the InformCT Consumer Confidence Survey. 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. and Smith & Company.

The percentage of state residents who believe that overall business conditions in the state are better than six months ago is at the lowest point in the past three years. Only 16% believe conditions have improved, compared with 49% who view business conditions as much the same, and 35% who say conditions have worsened. The percentage who view conditions as the same has increased in each of the past two quarters.

Looking ahead, an identical 49% feel that business conditions will remain the same six months from now, the same percentage as in the previous quarter, and slightly higher than the two preceding quarters. A total of 23% believe conditions will be better, while 28% believe conditions will worsen.

In three years of quarterly surveys, the percentage of residents who believed that business conditions would improve over the following six months reached as high as 30% only twice, in the first quarter of 2015 and again in the first quarter of 2017. It has otherwise remained in the mid-20’s.

Regarding their personal financial situation:

  • 47%, say their personal financial situation is the same as it was six months ago; 47% anticipate their personal financial situation being the same six months from now.
  • The percentage who feel they’re better off today than six months ago dropped for the second consecutive quarter, to 25%, now exceeded by the percentage who feel they are worse off, 28%.
  • Just over twice as many (36%) believe they will be better off six months from now, compared with those who believe their own financial situation will be worse (17%).

On job prospects in Connecticut, 63% believe that there are “some jobs but not enough,” and 21% view jobs as “very hard to get.” Looking ahead six months, 63% expect the employment situation in Connecticut will be about the same, while an almost equal number believe employment will get better (19%) and worse (18%). Yet, only 31% are concerned that “my job or that of my partner is in jeopardy.” About the same percentage (33%) are not concerned.

Among the other quarterly survey findings:

  • For the first time in 2017, the percentage indicating that they are likely to move out of Connecticut (36%) was exceeded by the number who said a move out-of-state was unlikely (38%). In recent years, the percentage saying that a move was likely within five years peaked in the first quarters of 2016 and 2017 (43%).
  • For the fourth consecutive quarter, more than 6 in 10 Connecticut residents are concerned about being able to afford health insurance (61% in Q4, 63% in Q3 and Q2, 60% in Q1).
  • 52% believe that Connecticut is a good place to live and raise a family, the third highest quarterly level in the past three years.
  • State residents who don’t believe (45%) they will have enough money to retire comfortably climbed slightly during 2017, as the percentage of those that do declined (27%, versus 43%-29% in the first quarter).
  • More than two-thirds (69%) said they plan to take a vacation outside Connecticut within the next six months; only 18% said it was very unlikely.
  • 39% expect to make a major consumer expenditure for furniture or another product in the next six months; 28% expect to purchase a new car in the next six months.

The online survey of 510 state residents was conducted in December 2017 has a margin of error of 4 percent.