FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Regional consumer opinion regarding the economy fell slightly from March to September, but is now more closely aligned with national attitudes and trends, according to the Fall 2015 Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey released today.
The current regional index for Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri – including Greater Kansas City – is 82.6, down from March’s index of 83.2. The national index, as reported by Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan, is down from 93.0 to 87.2 over the same period.
The 4.6 difference between regional and national sentiment is the smallest of any of the three previous surveys. The differences in those survey’s ranged from 9.8 to 14.3 points.
“When we released the first regional index there was an 11-point gap between the national and regional index scores,” Arvest Marketing Director Jason Kincy said. “That gap is now less than five points, which we believe is a positive indicator because it brings us more in line with national trends.”
“We’ve also seen the regional index increase more than 11 points since our first survey, and that reflects the positive economic activity we’ve seen throughout our footprint.”
Of the three states included in the Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey, only Arkansas reported a decline in overall consumer sentiment, from 79.1 in March to 77.8 in September.
Kathy Deck, Director of the Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) at the University of Arkansas, said Arkansans remain more cautious in their perceptions of economic conditions than their regional and national counterparts despite the state’s strengthening economic climate.
“Good local macroeconomic news does not seem to be positively affecting individual perceptions about their own situations,” she said.
Missouri and Oklahoma, meanwhile, each reported small increases in their index scores, from 85.2 to 85.8 in Missouri and from 84.8 to 85.0 in Oklahoma.
“Missouri continues to see some job growth, which is strengthening consumer’s attitudes about the economy,” said David Mitchell, Director of the Bureau of Economic Research at Missouri State University. “Recent year-over-year job growth is 1.2 percent, relative to the Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey at this time in 2014.”
In Oklahoma, Russell Evans, Director of the Steven C. Agee Economic Research & Policy Institute at Oklahoma City University said consumers remain optimistic even though the state’s primary industry – oil and natural gas production – faces a period of anticipated lower prices.
“The modest uptick in Oklahoma consumer sentiment suggests Oklahomans are weathering the storm of weakness in the state’s core oil and gas industry,” Evans said. “Their patience may be tested, however, as the state moves into 2016 and another year of expected weakness and budget cuts in our primary industry.”
The Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey is conducted by the CBER in the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas. The University of Oklahoma’s Public Opinion Learning Laboratory conducted the 1,200 random phone surveys. The CBER, Missouri State University and Oklahoma City University provided state data analysis.
The survey is conducted twice a year, with the next survey expected to conclude in March 2016. With each study, the index score will be released first, followed by additional information regarding specifics of consumer outlook for the near future and plans for savings and spending.
Information about the survey, copies of this release, summary documents and print-ready logos can be found at www.arvestconsumersurvey.com.