SALEM, Va., May 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Roanoke College Poll interviewed 603 Virginians about their financial situation, general business conditions now and in the future, their inclination for purchasing durable goods, and their thoughts on prices in the near-term. Indexes were constructed using methods similar to the popular national measures out of the University of Michigan. This is the fifth survey from IPOR on Virginia consumer sentiment and the fourth for price expectations.
The Virginia Index of Consumer Sentiment (VAICS) rose to 80.9 in May, a 12 percent increase since the first quarter of 2013. The preliminary national May value is 83.7
The improving sentiment in the Commonwealth is led by optimism about the future economy and household finances. More than 37 percent of those surveyed believe their finances will improve over the year and more than 41 percent expect improving business conditions. The Virginia Index of Consumer Expectations (VAICE) increased 15 percent since the first quarter to 78.9. The national value for current conditions is below that of Virginia, which preliminarily comes in at less than 75. Virginians also report improved household finances and business conditions since a year ago. The Virginia Index of Current Conditions (VAICC) rose 11 percent to 84.0. The nation is considerably more positive on the current conditions as University of Michigan reports a preliminary current conditions value of 97.5, the highest reading since October of 2007.
Optimism in Virginia is likely correlated with the improvements in the labor markets. The six-month moving average shows both reduced volatility and a downward trend in initial unemployment claims. Claims in April 2013 dropped below 20,000 for the first time in several years. The state unemployment rate dropped to 5 percent in April.
Prospects for the Commonwealth's continued job growth were bolstered this month when Governor Bob McDonnell signed HB 2313, "Virginia's Road to the Future," the state's first significant transportation legislation in almost three decades. Projections indicate the bill will sustain more than 13,000 new jobs annually over the next five years. Consumer sentiment is also likely aided by the recent reductions in gasoline prices, which are down 30 cents per gallon since February. Additionally, consumer wealth has risen due to record highs in the stock market.
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SOURCE Roanoke College