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U.Va. Study Finds Area Residents Content, Optimistic About Economy

Residents of the Charlottesville area feel better about current economic conditions and are decidedly more optimistic about future economic conditions than they were in early 2012, according to a telephone survey of more than 1,000 area residents conducted by the University of Virginia's Center for Survey Research. Their positive feelings and optimism in this regard have also increased at a pace faster than those of Americans in general, the study found.

The Jefferson Area Community Survey, U.Va.'s omnibus survey of adult residents in six local jurisdictions (the city of Charlottesville and Albemarle, Nelson, Greene, Fluvanna and Louisa counties), reveals a consumer sentiment index of 90.3, up from 80.9 in March.

The survey debuted in early 2012 and was conducted for the second time in October and November, said Tom Guterbock, director of the Center for Survey Research, based at U.Va.’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.

Derived from survey questions on present conditions and economic outlook, the Jefferson Area Community Survey consumer sentiment index is calculated in the same manner as the long-running national Index of Consumer Sentiment, reported monthly by the University of Michigan. The Thomson Reuters-University of Michigan national Index of Consumer Sentiment for November was 82.7, also up from its reading in March, when it was reported at 75.0.  

The local survey also reveals that of the six jurisdictions, residents of Charlottesville registered the greatest satisfaction with current conditions and the greatest optimism and, in all but one category, the greatest increase in positive outlook. Fluvanna and Louisa residents were the only respondents to indicate any decline in consumer sentiment. 

“Because the Charlottesville area benefitted from relatively stable public investments during the recent recession – especially in higher education – our economy and our region’s consumer sentiment never dipped as low as that of the rest of the country,” Center for Survey Research analyst David Shreve said. “Afterward, and especially this fall, area unemployment improved at a rate slightly more than twice as fast as the national average. So it’s no surprise that consumer sentiment has also rebounded much more quickly here in the Charlottesville-Albemarle region.”

“The survey is designed in general to serve the increasing need for scientifically based survey information about the greater Charlottesville region,” Guterbock said, “and it’s organized in such a way to reach a representative sample of the region’s cell phones and landlines.” It also allows area government agencies, nonprofit organizations and academic researchers to pose distinct questions of their choosing.

“We’re pleased to offer the survey as an important tool for researchers and public servants throughout the community,” Guterbock said. “Local organizations and agencies can improve their services by using the JACS to gauge the outlook of the citizens they serve and to find out what works – and what doesn’t.”

Affirmative Responses, Oct-Nov. 2012

JACS Consumer Sentiment

C’ville

Albemarle

Nelson

Greene

Fluvanna

Louisa

Better off Now Than Year Ago

44.4%

32.0%

27.1%

31.5%

25.7%

23.4%

Expect to be Better off a Year From Now

37.9%

36.8%

31.0%

29.7%

37.3%

12.9%

Expect Good Times for Business a Year from Now

52.1%

37.9%

34.7%

41.1%

38.8%

31.4%

 

Affirmative Responses, January 2012

JACS Consumer Sentiment

C’ville

Albemarle

Nelson

Greene

Fluvanna

Louisa

Better off Now Than Year Ago

32.2%

30.8%

20.8%

21.5%

29.0%

22.0%

Expect to be Better off a Year From Now

30.8%

27.9%

25.7%

22.2%

23.5%

31.2%

Expect Good Times for Business a Year from Now

30.6%

27.7%

24.7%

26.1%

26.0%

37.9%

 

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