Orange County consumers grew more optimistic during the third quarter, even as they remained concerned about the future.
Consumer confidence, which combines many economic factors, rose to a reading of 69 in the quarter, according to the Chapman–Claremont McKenna Orange County Consumer Sentiment Survey of 500 randomly selected people. That’s an increase from the second quarter’s 66.8, though well below the 96.3 recorded in the fourth quarter of last year, before the pandemic and its related lockdowns and other economic measures.
The small rebound was driven primarily by respondents’ outlooks for their own finances next year, their confidence in future U.S. business conditions, and this year’s effect of business conditions on their households.
Specifically, survey respondents' view of their own finances rose to 78.8 in the most recent period, from 73.3 in the second quarter; the reading in last year’s fourth quarter was 96.6 points.
While assessing U.S. business conditions for the next 12 months, respondents scored 82.5 for the most recent quarter, an uptick from the second quarter’s reading of 80.8, yet significantly less than the 99.9 from the fourth quarter.
The third-quarter reading for consumers’ beliefs about current-year business conditions on their households rebounded to 58.3 in the most recent period, from 46.5 in the second quarter; that was well below the fourth-quarter’s 93.4 points.
However, respondents’ views about the ability to find a job over the next year—certainly the most important long-term factor in consumer sentiment for any working-age family—continues to decrease. Given the recent announcements that a movie theater chain is shutting all its sites and Disney is laying off 28,000 in the division that owns Disneyland—it’s not surprising that Orange County consumers are worried about finding work. The index related to respondents’ likelihood of finding a job in the next year slumped to 67.1 in the most recent survey, from 69 in the second quarter, and 96.3 in the fourth quarter on 2019.
By political affiliation, Republicans had a rating of 78.2 on the overall consumer sentiment index while the rating was 54.5 among Democrats.