A survey released by the University of Florida Bureau of Economic and Business Research on September 29, 2009 showed a slight improvement in consumer confidence but also pointed to weak retail activity during the holiday season.
Consumer confidence rose in September to a 74 rating, reflecting a total increase of seven points during August and September. According to the bureau's director Chris McCarty, “there's optimism in the index.”
Despite increases in confidence about the overall economy, Florida consumers apparently remain troubled by their personal finances. The rating for perception of personal finances was at 44 points in September, unchanged from August, and only five points higher than the December 2008 all-time low of 39 points. According to Mr. McCarty, “People still don't feel good about their bank accounts,” which may indicate weak holiday retail performance.
State sales tax collections continue to exceed revenue forecasts, but state economists caution that the tax collections do not by themselves indicate an improving economy. On September 29, 2009, Amy Baker, Director of the State of Florida's Office of Economic & Demographic Research, announced that August sales tax collections were $32.6 million higher than expected, but the increase was largely attributable to the “Cash-for-Clunkers” program.
State revenue totals have exceeded forecasts for the last five months, but Ms. Baker noted that many revenue sources came in below their forecasts. She described the revenue results as good news, but added, “We can't draw too many conclusions from it about the recession or the state economy.