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Consumer Confidence Growing In Sunshine State

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The stock market rocketed higher Tuesday after strong economic indicators showed the American economy continues to move ahead. The economic outlook has sent consumer confidence up nationwide, including in the Sunshine State.

This is the best gain in consumer confidence since the start of the great recession, in 2007, and they come at the same time home prices are seeing their best improvements in seven years. It’s also the first measure of consumer confidence since the sequester cuts went into effect over a full month.

The monthly consumer confidence survey from the University of Florida released Tuesday showed that in May the state’s consumer confidence rose two points to 81. That’s on a scale of 2 to 150 benchmarked to 1966 at a value of 100.

Spending is on the rise as consumers are loosening up their purse strings. Also, foreign trades are booming out of the Port of Miami.

That’s great news for local shipper Miguel Gonzalez who explained to CBS4’s Chief Consumer Investigator Al Sunshine, “Business is up through the year. I think we’re doing very well. I think we’re on an upward scale. Compared to last year, we’re doing much better. I see construction moving along. I see land cleared for construction.”

Chris McCarty, who directs the survey, cautioned that the full impacts of federal budget cuts that went into effect this year could still hamper confidence. He also said they could impact whether or not residents from other states vacation this year in Florida.

The national real estate recovery’s helping homeowners feel better too. Home prices have seen four straight months of national growth.

The latest surveys show prices around South Florida up for the 15th straight month.

For local air conditioning contractor Jaime Bernett, that means a steady stream of cool profits as local customers go back to fixing up their homes.

“I think it’s getting better than last year, we’re moving more products this year than last year. It means more money in my pocket more that I can spend. A little, but more money than last year,” said Bernett.

But some local businessmen still worry about a possible summer slump getting in the way of our local recovery.

Jorge Saez said that’s what’s keeping him from hiring new employees for his A.C. repair service, “I don’t know…not really. It makes you very cautious. I’m still questioning what’s going to happen in the coming months.”

Florida’s latest consumer confidence numbers just saw the 3rd straight month of improvements and are now at a post-recession high.

But the big question remains, when will local companies start accelerating hiring around South Florida, which continues to see some of the highest jobless rates in the state.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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