Traverse City Record-Eagle

Business

April 9, 2014

Region, state see growth in economic morale

TRAVERSE CITY – Brilliant Books’ customers reflect survey results showing improving financial confidence in Michigan consumers, owner Peter Makin said.

Customers used to request cheaper paperback copies of books and be more careful about how many they purchased when Makin first opened the store in Suttons Bay during the throes of the 2007 economic recession. Not anymore.

“Now if people decide they want the book, they get the book,” he said.

Makin moved Brilliant Books to downtown Traverse City and now watches as his customers go from bargain book buyers to confident consumers.

Michigan State University’s most recent State of the State survey shows consumer confidence is growing statewide. The survey shows a slow but positive trend in Michigan consumers’ financial morale since the recession.

Charles Ballard, a Michigan State University economics professor, said consumer confidence reflects economic trends. Both took a dip around 2009 and since slowly improved.

“All our indications are better than they were five years ago, but not nearly as good as they were 15 years ago,” Ballard said.

Forty percent of respondents said their financial situation is better now than a year ago, while 31 percent said they are worse off. Fifty-four percent said their current finances are excellent or good and 59 percent expect to be better off a year from now.

More than 1,000 people responded. Twenty-eight of those are from northwest Michigan, and a higher portion of them reported excellent or good financial situations compared to respondents in the rest of the state. Fewer people from northwest Michigan expect to be doing better financially next year than other Michiganders, which Ballard attributes to the number wealthy people living in the area.

“Grand Traverse, Emmet, Leelanau and Charlevoix Counties are among the most affluent in the state,” Ballard said. “That would probably mean that if we got a good sample from those counties they were above the state average in terms of their indications of their current financial situation.”

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