Florida can’t quite get in a good mood about the economy.
The latest consumer-confidence numbers from the University of Florida extend the overall trend of consumers inching away from their recessionary blues from several years ago. But the most recent numbers show a decline from the fall. In January, the parts of the survey that measure anxiety over personal finances took a turn for the worse, just as payroll taxes went higher.
The UF survey didn’t show the kind of plunge revealed by a similar poll of consumers nationwide. The Conference Board’s confidence index dropped to its lowest level since November 2011. The UF survey is about where it was in August.
Higher payroll taxes are taking a toll on consumers’ willingness to spend freely, analysts said. On Jan. 1, Congress and the White House let expire a temporary waiver on a 2 percent tax used to fund Social Security payments. The restored tax took an instant hit on paychecks across the country, which were issued at roughly the same time as the surveys were taken.
The pinched paychecks may help explain the biggest decliner in the UF survey. While the overall index dropped by about 3 percent, there was an 8 percent drop in the component that measures respondents’ outlook toward their finances a year from now.