The Index of Consumer Sentiment (ICS) for the Fort Smith region rose in the fourth quarter ending Dec. 31, according to the preliminary report released Jan. 16 by the Center for Business Research and Economic Development at the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith.
The Fort Smith MSA consumer sentiment index was 61.5, up 3.5 percent from the third quarter result of 59.4.
The results were consistent with national results reported by the University of Michigan (UM) for the same period. The Michigan study reported an 82.5 in December, 6.5 percent higher than the September reading.
Dr. Kermit Kuehn of Fort Smith, center director, said, “Sentiment seemed to reflect the generally more positive economic news we’ve been seeing over the past few weeks.”
Arvest Bank president Craig Rivaldo said the report was good news for the regional economy.
“While the report reveals only modest improvement in consumer attitudes toward our economy,” said Rivaldo. “The report does suggest we will have a more upbeat consumer as we head into the first quarter of 2014 – and that’s always a good thing, in my view.”
The report also outlined results for two sub-indices that saw improvement this quarter. The Index for Current Conditions (ICC), a measure of consumer attitudes about their current economic situations, rose a modest .4 percent to 67.4. The Index for Consumer Expectations (ICE), which measures consumer feelings about future economic conditions, was up a solid 19.3 percent from last quarter, recording a 54.9.
Index scores below 100 reflect less optimism about the economy than scores above 100.
Kuehn noted that consumer attitudes toward the regional job market were largely unchanged from the last report, but that expectations regarding the economy for the coming year were much improved over September’s reading.
He said that a detailed analysis of the entire 17-item survey distributed to over 3,000 regional households will be published in the Fort Smith Regional Economic Outlook Report, a quarterly report sponsored by Arvest Bank which is expected to be released the second week of March.