Florida confidence in economy hits 5-year high

Floridians finally seem ready to shake off their recession-era blues.

Consumer confidence hit a five-year high this month in the Sunshine State, thanks largely to significantly better outlooks on the national economy’s health. The latest reading from the University of Florida confidence index hit its highest level since October 2007, two months before the official start of the 2007-09 national recession.

Confidence has been increasing this year, and readings from prior months came close to the September score of 79 released Tuesday. But with a presidential election ahead, as well as the potential for steep cuts in federal spending as part of a deficit-reduction process, the confidence may not last through the end of 2012.

“Much of the increase in confidence in September was from lower income households and from seniors,’’ said Chris McCarty, head of UF’s survey center. “Some of this may have to do with the elections around the corner and anticipation of what it will mean for the future of entitlement programs.”

A separate national survey by the Conference Board, an industry group, also showed gains, with consumer sentiment hitting its highest level since February.

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