Study finds state’s consumers more optimistic

STARKVILLE — The latest Mississippi Index of Consumer Sentiment for the fourth quarter of 2010 continues to show improvement since beginning a climb in September.

Becky Smith, editor of the Mississippi State University-based “Economy Watch” business forecast, said there’s even more good news as Mississippians are seeing their highest level of overall confidence in two years.

“When looking at current conditions, the index saw an 11-point percentage jump from the first quarter of 2009 to the fourth quarter of 2010, with positive consumer feedback at its highest since our survey began,” Smith said.

The recently recorded fourth quarter percentage stands at 76.8, while the first quarter number in 2009 was 65.8.

Improved economic conditions mean that state residents have a more positive outlook on their futures as well. Survey participants responded with the greatest percentage increase on the entire questionnaire when asked about next year’s family financial conditions.

Smith said, “Interviewees who held positive attitudes about next year’s financial situation accounted for 35.5 percent in the survey’s fourth quarter, and that’s up from 22 percent in the third.”

Moreover, the MSU College of Business economist said positive attitudes about purchasing major household items have increased by 5.1 percent since last September.

The 2010 fourth quarter saw 496 responding to MSU Survey Research Laboratory telephone interviews, which MSU reports as a statistically significant number.

In addition to survey results, Smith also announced the introduction of the Mississippi Regional Economic Analysis Project (mississippi.reaproject.org/), an interactive tool for the state’s citizens to generate statistical reports, research and analysis.

“The website is intuitive, and the reports clearly explain trends and implications that can be understood by non-economists. Users can run data for specific counties, metro and non-metro areas and Momentum Mississippi regions,” she said.

Momentum Mississippi is a statewide, public-private partnership dedicated to the development of economic and employment opportunities in Mississippi.

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