LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (July 17, 2014) – The inaugural report of the Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey was released today and indicates that the sentiment of Arkansas consumers regarding their views on the economy are lower than those of consumers in neighboring states of Oklahoma and Missouri. All three states trailed the national consumer sentiment index for June as reported by Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan.
The Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey is conducted by the Center for Business and Economic Research (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 phone surveys.
The consumer sentiment index for Arkansas was 67.4, trailing that of Missouri (68.6) and Oklahoma (76.4). The national index for June is 82.5.
In discussing the results, Kathy Deck, CBER director and lead economist for the survey, said, "We are excited to have our first measures of statewide and regional consumer confidence from the Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey. Our initial readings indicate that consumers in the region, and especially in Arkansas, are quite leery about overall economic conditions in the near future, although they reported being relatively upbeat about their current financial status," Deck said. "The consumer sentiment numbers seem consistent with the contradictory nature of other economic data for the state, particularly the declining labor force in the face of improving payroll employment."
Deck also said these new consumer sentiment data indicate that Arkansas can expect continued "on-again, off-again growth." "Until consumers indicate that they feel confident about their economic futures, personal income growth will be the key to additional spending and a breakout recovery. We will look forward to our next data point to begin telling us about trends in optimism," she said.
John Womack, chairman and chief executive officer of Arvest Bank of Central Arkansas said, "When Arvest decided to sponsor this survey, we felt it would be beneficial for our communities and customers to have an accurate reading of how consumers are feeling about the economy in the states where we operate. These first results give us better, more localized, information in that regard than has been available in the past. What is most important is simply knowing where people in the state stand in their views – especially since consumers drive the majority of economic activity. Plus, with future results, we will be able see if sentiment here is trending up or down with sentiment nationally," he said.
The Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey will be conducted twice a year with the next survey expected to be completed in late November.