Consumer confidence rose, but remained negative in Nebraska during February while Nebraska businesses remained optimistic about expanding employment, according to the February Surveys of Nebraska Households and Nebraska Business, which are conducted by the UNL Bureau of Business Research.
Results of the February Survey of Nebraska Households was used to calculate the Consumer Confidence Index – Nebraska. The index stood at 91.6 in February 2016, well below the value of 100 which represents neutral confidence.
“Weak consumer confidence may reflect limited growth in real wages in Nebraska over the last 15 years,” said UNL economist Eric Thompson, the Bureau’s director. “A sustained period of real wage growth may be necessary to create a positive consumer outlook.”
The CCI-N, however, did rise 6.9 points from its value of 84.7 in January 2015. “The improvement of the consumer confidence index mirrors the stabilization of the economy and the stock market during February,” said Thompson.
In terms of specific concerns, households reported that their top financial concern was the cost of living (18%), paying off debt (17%) and taxes (10%).
Taxes also were a common concern of respondents to the February Survey of Nebraska Business, with 16 percent of businesses choosing taxes as their top concern. “Concern about taxes was elevated in the February surveys,” noted Thompson.
Business respondents were optimistic about the outlook for employment, with 14 percent expecting to add employment at their businesses over the next six months versus just 3 percent expecting to reduce employment.
Businesses owners and managers were somewhat pessimistic about sales, however, with 20 percent expecting sales to increase versus 24 percent expecting a decline.
The surveys are sent each month to 500 randomly selected Nebraska businesses and households. In February, 115 businesses responded to the Survey of Nebraska Business, for a response rate of 23 percent. There were 150 respondents to the Survey of Nebraska Households, for a response rate of 30 percent.