Virginians weighed in earlier this month on their opinion of the economy. It’s the 4th time this year Roanoke College researcher have interviewed Virginians about their financial situation, inclination for purchasing durable goods, and general business conditions in the future.
Alice Kassens is a Senior Analyst for the Institute for Policy and Opinion Research at Roanoke College.
“The sentiment is down, not only the overall sentiment measure but also how Virginians feel about the next couple of years and their current finances today compared to a year ago. And this is the first time we’ve seen a slide or pullback in consumer sentiment over the last few quarters.”
In fact, she says consumer sentiment has been improving the last two quarters but the retreat has wiped out all of the gains. When compared with the national report released by the University of Michigan, Virginians are more discouraged about current conditions than they were a year ago but are more optimistic about the future than the rest of the nation. But those views differ depending on where you live in the Commonwealth.
For instance, Southside is reporting a 12 point increase, putting it on par with the likes of Northern Virginia and the Tidewater region. Kassens believes this is due to the announcement by Microsoft of its intentions to build a 500 million dollar data center in Boydton. But Southwestern Virginia residents saw an almost 30 point drop in their feelings about today and the future.
“That being coal country, one has to wonder if the most recent election, the gubernatorial one that got quite heated, and there was a lot of talk about what to do with the coal industry in that election. And given a lot of their employment in that area comes from the coal industry, I believe there’s some concerns there.”
The pull back in consumer confidence has shown up the last three Novembers Kassens and her staff have done the survey but it always rebounds by February. Only time will tell if that will be the case this time around.