A new survey suggests Arizonans believe the economy is going to get better, even if they cannot see evidence that it has so far.
The latest consumer confidence report finds that just 22 percent of those questioned say current business conditions are good. And 56 percent say that jobs remain hard to find. But asked about what they expect to happen six months from now, 36 percent foresee better business conditions, an 8 point jump from just three months earlier. And just 16 percent predict fewer jobs by this summer, a rate close to half of what it was when the last survey was taken in October. Dennis Hoffman, an economics professor at Arizona State University, said the numbers reflect a renewed optimism.
"What you're seeing," he said, "is, as every month that goes by, the future just looks a hair brighter to folks. Apparently reflected in these numbers, they're seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. And it doesn't appeal to be a train coming at them."
Hoffman said that renewed confidence showed up over the holiday season, with spending up about 5 percent over last year. And he added that major purchases also are up, including furniture and vehicles. Hoffman also said just that feeling things are getting better, by itself, may help drive the economy.
"As these attitudes continue to warm and people act on them by making purchases, taking advantage of employment opportunities, et cetera, the economy will continue to get better."
But the index shows the state still has a long way to go before residents return to that unbridled optimism that existed in 2007, before the recession and before the state's housing balloon went flat.