SALT LAKE CITY — Utahns are more willing to spend money on America’s favorite pastime, a new survey has found, as the positive outlook in consumer confidence holds steady in the Beehive State.
"Everybody’s economic plight in life is getting better right now so that affords you to do more fun things," said Marc Amicone, president and general manager of the Salt Lake Bees.
With baseball as a backdrop, representatives from Zions Bank and the Salt Lake Bees announced Tuesday the Zions Bank Consumer Attitude Index. Utah consumers’ overall confidence in the local economy slightly rose by 1.7 points in July, now resting at 113.6 points. For comparison, the consumer attitude for Americans in July was surveyed at 127.4.
Through consultants in early July, Zions Bank asked 500 households across the state about their feelings concerning the economy in Utah. Results found that 75 percent of Utahns would spend money on spectator sports — 30 percent of which said they would do so at a baseball or softball game.
"The last five years we’ve experienced about a 5 percent growth in each of those five years," said Marc Amicone, president and general manager of the Salt Lake Bees.
"This year, we’re projecting a little bit more of a flat attendance and flat revenue generation," Amicone said.
Despite that plateau, Amicone said the survey findings do inspire confidence for Utah’s baseball club. The survey reported that 13 percent of respondents are expecting to spend more at the ballpark than they did last year.
"We feel really good about our future anyway," Amicone said. "The business climate is getting better."
The Zion survey results also found that Utahns are not as confident about the current local economy as they were a month ago, but expectations about its future have risen.
According to Chad Berbert, an economic consultant to Zions Bank, an index over 110 points is an indicator of favorable economic confidence, fueling increased spending "and other economic activity."
The index has remained above this benchmark for 26 months straight, and Berbert said they expect that trend to continue for at least another six months. The Utah Future Expectations Index, which measures Utahns’ perceptions of the future, rose 4.7 points to 106.6, Berbert said.
However, the Utah Present Situation Index, which measures Utahns’ perspective on the current situation decreased 2.8 points, Berbert said. That index now rests at a still-favorable 124 points.
"The largest increase was seen in Utahns’ heightened confidence that their future income will increase over the next six months," Berbert said.
Regardless of this outlook, high and rising costs in housing and transportation are limiting consumers ability to spend money on themselves, according to Zions Bank’s Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index report.
Housing costs remain the largest portion of Utahns’ expenditures at 37.7 percent.
Utahns don’t expect this trend to end any time soon, Zions’ survey found. A vast majority of July’s respondents believe costs in Utah will increase, from home prices, gas prices and interest rates.
While costs rise, Utahns’ seem to express confidence in their possible job prospects.
"Utahns’ confidence in job availability is at the highest point it has ever been seen since we’ve been tracking the Utah Consumer Attitude Index, since 2011," Berbert said. The survey found 63 percent of Utahns believing jobs are currently plentiful in the state.
Berbert reported that unemployment is still "very low" in Utah, at 3 percent.
"Even lower than the relatively low national rate of 3.9 percent," he said. Utah still leads in the nation in rate of job growth at 3.3 percent, yearly.