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Consumer confidence dropped in Nebraska during last month, according to the latest monthly surveys from the Bureau of Business Research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Responses to the December Survey of Nebraska Households indicate that consumer confidence stood at 99.1 in December, just below the neutral level of 100.0 and well below the November reading of 106.4. It was only the second time in 2018 consumer confidence fell below 100.

Nebraska business confidence, by contrast, remained strong during December. Responses to the Survey of Nebraska Business indicate that business confidence stood at 109.9, up slightly up from a reading of 107.2 in November.

“Strong business confidence suggests a positive outlook for the Nebraska economy,” Eric Thompson, an economist who serves as Bureau director, said in a news release. “However, it will be important to monitor whether consumer confidence improves in the coming months.”

The cost of living was a major concern for Nebraska households. One-half of Nebraska households expressed concerns about the cost of health care, taxes, major expenses (such as home repairs) or the general cost of living. “Households were especially concerned about the cost of utilities, insurance, food and education,” Thompson said.

Businesses were primarily concerned about customer demand, particularly businesses in agriculture and the health care industry, he said. Health care businesses felt that insurance reimbursement rates and rising patient co-pays and deductibles were hurting customer demand.

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Business editor/reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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