Consumer sentiment among Floridians dropped six-tenths of a point in September to 95.5 from a revised figure of 96.1 in August, according to a monthly survey by the University of Florida (UF). Similarly, the University of Michigan’s nationwide consumer sentiment index decreased slightly in September.
Of the five components that make up Florida’s index, three decreased and two increased.
Perceptions of one’s personal financial situation now compared with a year ago decreased from 87.8 to 87.2. On the other hand, opinions as to whether it’s a good time to buy a big-ticket household item such as an appliance increased from 102.6 to 103.2.
“The behavior of these two components of the index indicate that perceptions of present economic conditions among Floridians remain unchanged from last month,” said Hector H. Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research.
Expectations of personal finances a year from now showed the biggest drop this month, down 4.4 points from 104.8 to 100.4.
Anticipated U.S. economic conditions over the next year decreased 2.6 points – from 95.8 to 93.2. However, expectations of U.S. economic conditions over the next five years showed the greatest increase, rising 3.7 points from 89.6 to 93.3.
Hurricane Harvey made landfall Aug. 25 and flooded parts of Houston and southeastern Texas, forcing the closure of several oil refineries and increasing gas prices in the U.S. In Florida, the average price for a gallon of gasoline went up by 36 cents, according to AAA.
Hurricane Irma battered Florida and caused a decline in overall economic activities and economic growth in the state, triggering business closures and job losses. For the week ending Sep. 16, Florida had the nation’s second-largest increase in initial claims for unemployment insurance.
The Florida unemployment rate declined one-tenth of a percentage point in August to 4.0 percent. Job gains were led by the professional and business services industry, followed by trade, transportation and utilities, and the education and health services sector. The latest unemployment report does not account for job losses caused by recent storms, but it confirms the positive trends observed in previous years.
FEMA says it has approved 144,407 applications and provided $124.4 million to repair damages to Florida homes and businesses that aren’t covered by insurance.
But that number is just a fraction of the overall Irma-related claims in Florida. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation reports that Irma claims statewide amount to $4.2 billion in losses. There were 661,957 claims filed as of Monday, which comes to about $6,500 in damages per case.
Leading the pack in the number of claims by county were three of the state’s most populous: Miami-Dade at 79,827, Orange County at 54,962 and Broward County at 52,741. Rounding out the top five were two Southwest Florida counties that saw a direct hit from Irma: Lee with 49,525 claims and Collier with 44,493.
Statewide, 84 percent of Irma-related claims are related to damages to residential properties like a home or apartment building. The rest deal with businesses or private property.
Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis said recently that he expects the number of claims to continue to rise.
“As we enter the second stage of Irma recovery, we’re focusing on making sure that insurance professionals have the tools they need to adjust and close your claims as efficiently and effectively as possible – helping your family return to normal faster,” he wrote in a news release.
Nearly one in five non-FEMA claims filed statewide have been either paid out or denied, a clearance rate of 18.2 percent. However, some counties are well above average in the number of cases that have been closed out. In Clay County, 29 percent of claims have been resolved and that number was 28 percent in Duval.
These numbers include claims processed by private insurers and the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. but not losses reported solely to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.