GSU Survey: Optimism about economy up slightly

STATESBORO, GA (WTOC) - Georgians are feeling slightly more optimistic about the economy, according to a new consumer confidence survey by Georgia Southern University's Bureau of Business Research and Economic Development.

"Consumer confidence is the primary driver of spending and consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of the U.S. economy," said Edward Sibbald, interim director of the University's Bureau of Business Research and Economic Development, in a statement. "Basically, the Georgia consumer right now is feeling a little bit better than they were a year ago, but not to the point where they're about to open their wallet and spend aggressively as part of the economic growth."

Sixty-one percent of respondents said they viewed the economy as the same or better than it was last year. That's up from 55 percent of those who were surveyed in 2010. It is a sign that confidence in the economy is growing, but at a very slow pace, according to Sibbald.

Consumer confidence is slow to grow due to slow job creation growth, minimal growth in personal income and growing fears about the national debt and rising gas prices.

The survey talked with from 551 Georgians from around the state.

Consumer confidence varies in different regions of the state, the survey found. The northern Georgia and Atlanta metro is still in the midst of a severe housing crisis that is dampening consumer confidence. Georgia's recovery will depend heavily on the commodity prices of peanuts and cotton, according to the findings.

Coastal Georgia, which didn't suffer as much as other parts of the state during the great recession, are faring better, but are feeling worse about the recovery than other regions.

Central Georgia, including Columbus, Macon and Augusta, fared the best during the recent economic storm and has a positive consumer outlook, according to the study.

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