GAINESVILLE, FLA. -- Florida's August consumer confidence level was 77, a figure unchanged since July, according to a monthly University of Florida survey.
Economist Chris McCarty said Floridians seem somewhat resilient in the face of the economic challenges facing the U.S. and Florida this coming January.
The new year could bring an end to federal tax cuts and could bring automatic spending cuts unless the Congress and the president take action.
McCarty said Floridians seemed to feel confident that nobody would let the nation plunge over the so-called 'fiscal cliff.'
Of the five components researchers use to assess the economic mood of Floridians, two showed a boost in confidence.
Respondents' faith in U.S. economic conditions over the coming year rose one point to 76, while their optimism about the national economy over the next five years went up four points to 83.
Two other components, however, revealed a drop in confidence.
Floridians' overall perception that now is a good time to buy a big-ticket item, such as an automobile or computer, declined two points to 80.
In addition, their perception that they are better off financially today than they were a year ago dipped by two points to 62.
Consumer expectations that personal finances will improve a year from now stayed the same as July at 85.
McCarty said the index actually indicates that Floridians have a strong optimistic streak.
In fact, the UF survey indicates that both the overall index and several of the components used in the survey are near post-recession highs.
This is true for both young and old, and lower- and higher-income households, according to McCarty.
A steady stream of good economic news may be contributing to the sustained optimism.
For instance, although the median housing price dropped $3,000 from the previous month, it still is substantially higher than a year ago.
The stock market also could be boosting confidence as it continues to hold onto recent gains with the Dow still up more than 5 percent for the year.
Florida's unemployment rate edged up in July by two-tenths of a percent to 8.8, but employment gains have been more broadly based across the job market than previously, McCarty said.
Though gas prices have risen since July, they are still 30 cents below their recent high of $3.85 for a gallon of regular gasoline.