Arkansans' expectations of their personal financial situations in the future have improved significantly since March, even if they say their personal finances have not changed much from a year ago, according to the fall 2016 Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey.
The report, released Tuesday, includes a study of consumers' outlooks on personal finances, buying conditions over the next six months, and business conditions over the next year and next five years.
According to the survey conducted in August, 42 percent of Arkansas consumers expect their personal financial situation to improve over the next 12 months, up from 38 percent in March.
"For the first time since the beginning of the Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey, Arkansas consumers expressed more optimism about the future than their national counterparts," said Kathy Deck, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research in the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas and lead economist for the survey.
"High sentiment readings were recorded for all three components of the expectations index, indicating high hopes about future personal financial conditions, shorter-term business conditions and longer-term business conditions," Deck said.
The CBER conducts the survey twice a year through 1,200 random online and telephone surveys.
Missouri and Oklahoma were also surveyed. Across the region, 47 percent expect their personal financial situation to stay the same, while 40 percent expect it to improve.
When it came to determining buying conditions, 57 percent of Arkansans believe the next six months will be a good time to buy items like furniture, televisions and refrigerators.
Arkansans were more optimistic in August than March in terms of expected business conditions over the next year, with 31 percent expecting good times compared with 28 percent in March.
Regional respondents who expect good times for businesses over the next year jumped from 24 percent to 32 percent, and 43 percent expect good times over the next five years.
This round of survey results also includes a Current Conditions Sub-Index and a Consumer Expectations Sub-Index, which follow the model of the national Thomson/Reuters Michigan Surveys of Consumers. Both those ratings increased since the last survey, indicating a combination of consumer satisfaction with their current and expected personal finances, current and expected economic performance, and the purchasing environment, the survey said.