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Survey finds consumer confidence at all-time low

ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — Consumer confidence in the future of the state’s economy has dipped to the lowest recorded level since Mississippi State University’s “Economy Watch” series began in early 2009.

According to survey results from the state’s Index of Consumer Expectations, Mississippians’ perceptions of future conditions fell to 71.5 percent, a decrease of 7.1 percent from last year’s second quarter. When compared to this year’s first quarter, the decrease remained significant at 6.7 percent.

Rebecca Campbell Smith, an economist in MSU’s College of Business, believes the geographical distribution of consumer confidence suggests the Gulf Coast oil spill has adversely affected Mississippians’ views of future economic conditions.

“The map clearly shows that the closer to the Coast region, the lower the confidence,” she said. “Three metropolitan areas close to the Coast, namely Gulfport-Biloxi, Pascagoula and Hattiesburg, have lower confidence in conditions over the next 12 months.”

In measuring current conditions, the economist noted the state’s confidence enjoyed a small increase of 0.8 percent from this year’s first quarter. Compared to national current conditions, Mississippi lags behind by more than 6 percent, with the U.S. percentage at 82.5 and the state’s at 76.4.

Smith said, “Our state doesn’t feel it’s turned the corner out of the current recession.”

In calculating Mississippi’s overall confidence, she found Magnolia State residents feel slightly less secure, with percentages sliding from 76.4 in the second quarter of 2009 to 73.4 in 2010.

“Also, this is the first time our overall confidence has dropped below the national measure. This is mainly explained by the decrease in the coast’s expectations for the future.”

Smith said of the 0.5 percentage difference in the state (73.4) and U.S. (73.9) numbers.

Results for the second quarter came from almost 500 telephone interviews conducted by the MSU Social Science Research Center, with report details available at www.economywatch.msstate.edu.

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