Virginia consumers optimism about economy is growing

Virginia consumers optimism about economy is growing

Virginians optimism about the economy is growing, with Northern Virginia residents the most optimistic, according to a recent poll by Roanoke College. Researchers interviewed 603 residents about their financial situation, general business conditions, their inclination to buy large household items and their thoughts on near-term prices.

Statewide, the Virginia Index of Consumer Sentiment rose to 80.9 in May, a 12 percent increase since the first quarter of 2013 but a few points below the national index. Virginians are more optimistic than the rest of the country about current conditions. More than 37 percent of those surveyed believe their finances will improve in the next year and more than 41 percent expect improving business conditions.

Northern Virginians are the most optimistic about current conditions. Nearly 45 percent believe it is a good time to buy large, durable items such as furniture or kitchen appliances. Low prices are cited as the main reason. Northern Virginias low unemployment rate of 5.2 percent no doubt helps.

Statewide trends show both reduced job volatility and a downward trend in initial unemployment claims. And Governor Bob McDonnells recent signing of the transportation bill is expected to bring 13,000 new jobs annually in the next five years. Researchers also cite recent reductions in gasoline prices as a boost to consumer sentiment.

Nationally, the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index hit a five-year high in May. Back-to-back monthly gains suggest that consumer confidence is on the mend and may be regaining the traction it lost due to the fiscal cliff, payroll-tax hike and sequester, says Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board.

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