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Consumer confidence weakens

STARKVILLE — Even as national news reports indicate more positive outlooks on the public’s confidence in the economy, recent third-quarter results from the state’s Index of Consumer Sentiment shows something different.

Survey findings from the quarterly online business forecaster of Mississippi State University’s (MSU’s) College of Business describe an overall decrease of 4.7 percent in Mississippi consumer confidence. Standing at 72.86 for the months of July-September, the latest report follows a second-quarter overall confidence rating of 76.42.

Rebecca Campbell Smith, editor of the university-based “Economy Watch” service, said these results contrast with the latest U.S. Index of Consumer Sentiment report of a positive 12 percent increase in consumer confidence for September.

“Currently, Mississippi consumers are much more pessimistic than most consumers in the rest of the nation when looking at current conditions,” Smith said. “The state’s population is more optimistic, however, when looking to future expectations.”

The most recent survey of 501 individuals by MSU’s nationally recognized Survey Research Laboratory sought opinions on both current and future conditions.

Smith, an instructor in the business college, said most of the losses in the state index stemmed from a 6.5 percent decrease in confidence of current conditions, and only a 3.59 percent decrease in the expectations of the future. The current confidence rating for Mississippi is 68.3, while the future rating is 75.78.

Looking forward, Smith said past consumer surveys have proved accurate indicators of the economy’s course, and that most American consumers believe a national recovery has begun.

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