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February Surveys: Consumer Confidence on the Rise

Consumer confidence improved in February, while business confidence remained strong, according to the latest monthly surveys from the Bureau of Business Research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
“Businesses predicted growth in sales and employment during the next six months,” said Eric Thompson, an economist who serves as bureau director. “Although the consumer index rose in February, Nebraska consumers remained less confident than businesses.”
March 2017 chart
The monthly Survey of Nebraska Business indicated that Nebraska’s business confidence index rose to 109.1 in February from a value of 107.8 in January 2017. Both values are well above the neutral level of 100. Thompson said the slight increase since January signals that Nebraska business confidence is holding at a high level.  Participating businesses indicated that customer demand and labor availability were their top concerns.  
The monthly Survey of Nebraska Households showed that Nebraska’s consumer confidence index rose to 94.6 in February from a value of 89.2 in January. While more consumers predicted better economic times during the next six months, the index remained below the neutral level of 100, indicating weak consumer confidence overall.   Major factors dampening consumer confidence were the cost of living and health care.  
“Further improvements in the economy will be required over the next few months to generate strong consumer confidence,” said Thompson.
The surveys are sent each month to 500 randomly selected Nebraska businesses and households. During February, 147 businesses responded to the Survey of Nebraska Business, for a response rate of 30 percent. There were 124 respondents to the Survey of Nebraska Households, for a response rate of 25 percent.  
Published: March 3, 2017