ECONOMY

Consumer confidence in Florida back to pre-recession levels

 

dhanks@MiamiHerald.com

A rebounding housing market may finally be curing Floridians of their recessionary blues.

The latest reading of consumer confidence from the University of Florida hit its highest level this month since August 2007, as the recession and housing crash were taking hold of the Sunshine State’s economy. The national recession officially began in December 2007, so the May reading from the UF consumer-confidence index is the highest since the start of the downturn.

The Florida reading reflects a national trend, with the Conference Board’s own confidence index also hitting a post-recession high on Tuesday.

In Florida, UF analysts credited the rise to Floridians feeling more optimistic about their personal finances as well as about the future of the national economy. The higher optimism readings come despite ongoing drama over the federal budget, with cutbacks underway from the sequestration program.

Also on Tuesday, Standard and Poor’s released its Case-Shiller index of real estate values. The reading showed property values have been on the rise in South Florida for the past 15 months — the longest streak since the real estate crash began in 2006.

The confidence readings still don’t equate to happy days being here again. Confidence in post-9/11 Florida peaked in early 2004, when levels hovered around 94. The May reading from UF hit 81. The index last broke above 90 in 2006.

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