by Tom Joyce

Arizonans ended the year with lower consumer confidence than there had been in the three months prior.

The Greater Phoenix Chamber released its 2021 fourth quarter Arizona Business Index, a poll conducted by OH Predictive Insights. It showed that consumers have less confidence in the economy fell in the third quarter.

The Economic Optimism Index dropped 4.81 points to 74.5. Notably, 85% of consumers think prices will increase, up 2.6% from the third quarter; and 73% think interest rates will rise, a 5.9% increase over the third quarter.

“In Q4, consumer sentiment dropped to its lowest point of the year,” Todd Sanders, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Chamber, said in a press release. “We saw the highest drops in confidence among consumers with higher incomes and education levels.”

While consumers are less optimistic about the economy, there was an increase in job satisfaction late in the fourth quarter of last year; it went from 73% in November to 76% in December. It’s an improvement over the rate at the same point in 2020, when it was stuck at 67%.

“Our members, like businesses across the country, are being hit hard by workforce shortages,” Sanders said in the press release. “With workforce shortages comes additional workload for current employees, which can lead to frustration and burnout. While it is never encouraging to hear that job satisfaction is declining, it is not surprising.”

On COVID-19, a plurality of Arizona residents thought the situation would stay the same as it has been (36%); the figure was 28% in the third quarter. However, coronavirus pessimism, the opinion that it would get worse, dropped from 41% to 29% from quarter to quarter.

However, people are more likely to go out in public despite the pandemic. While 68% of people said that they were more likely to avoid public gatherings and 46% said the same of restaurants in the third quarter, the figures shrunk to 63% and 42% in the fourth quarter respectively.

 The poll surveyed 1,800 Arizona adults from October 2021 to December 2021 and used demographics that reflect Census data. The poll’s margin of error is 2.31%.

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Tom Joyce is a contributor to The Center Square.

Posted by Jocelyn McAlpin