Here’s what we know today from the Ipsos Coronavirus Consumer Tracker:
- The IPAC, Ipsos’ measure of how consumers are dealing with the pandemic, is still relatively stable.
- Other COVID indicators are flat as well.
- Frequent mask usage continues to decline (now 27% from 32% two waves ago)
Read on for data about: Inflation postponed medical procedures, charitable giving, affordable housing and more.
An uptick in optimism
Why we asked: Inflation. It’s just not letting up, is it?
What we found: It’s a small thing… only a point. But the number who say their spending will decrease ticked up to 24%. And yes, yes, that’s well within the margins, but that is also the second-highest value in all the waves we’ve tracked this question. Mostly though, things are pretty flat on this and a number of other related metrics we tracked.
What are we putting off?
Why we asked: Healthcare can be a big expense. And can also seem like something that can be put off until tomorrow when economic conditions get hard.
What we found: At the moment a minority – but not an insignificant one – are putting off a variety of medical treatments. One in five (18%) say they can’t afford medications. About a quarter of Americans say they are putting off annual or regular visits to specialists and to their primary care doctors. Slightly more are putting off routine dental cleanings and check-ups (28%) or procedures like straightening and whitening (26%).
By contrast, roughly this time last year, 27% of people said they had (or had considered) postponing in-person medical care because of the pandemic, as the U.S. was battling the delta variant.
Affordable housing part I
Why we asked: Mortgage rates are hitting nearly 20-year highs. That’s double to triple what rates were during the record lows of the pandemic. As ABC News reported, “a home-buyer of a $500,000 home is paying almost $900 more a month today than they were this time last year.” What’s that doing to the affordability of housing?
What we found: Of all consumers (only a fraction of whom are in the housing market at any given moment) 18% say they have put off buying a home in the last six months due to interest rates. A similar number report delaying due to lack of availability of housing stock in their market. Seems like folks should want more affordable housing in conditions like this, eh?
Affordable housing part II
Why we asked: See above.
What we found: Your editor has spent part of his career in areas that relate to housing policy and livability. So honestly, I was pleasantly surprised that the vast majority of Americans (86%) recognize the pressing need for more affordable housing in the U.S. That’s even higher in urban areas, and cuts across party lines. Fewer (77%) think their city needs more affordable housing and even fewer (but still a clear majority, 66%) think their neighborhoods need more affordable housing. That likely reflects a combination of some areas actually having enough affordable housing combined with a fair dose of predictable NIMBYism.
We’re not feeling particularly charitable
Why we asked: With all kinds of local and global calamities and household budgets stretched thin, are we feeling like helping out our fellow citizens when we can?
What we found: Eh, not really. Only three in ten Americans say they have donated to a philanthropic or relief cause in the last six months. Care for children (32%), animal safety (22%) aid to Ukraine (14%) and climate change and COVID relief (12% each) topped the causes listed. Fewer than one in ten donated to hurricane relief for either Ian or Fiona.
How are we earning money?
Why we asked: With all of the changes in our economy, has that shifted how we’re earning money?
What we found: There seems to be some shifting going on. Those reporting that they have one salaried source of income dipped 5 points since we last asked at the end of August 2021. Meanwhile the non-salaried, single-source jumped 8 points to 30%. Multiple sources of income were claimed by about three in ten, down a couple of points.
Here’s what we’re reading this week that has us thinking about the future.
- Hyundai is offering anti-theft devices because TikTok (via FoxNews)
- Bella Hadid’s Coperni spray-on dress (via PageSix)
- New Yorkers are eating dinner earlier. Is this a thing? (via NYT).
- AI images won’t be allowed on Getty, but now Meta unveiled AI video (Via MIT)
- Today’s climate signal: the growing rise of mold (via NYT)
For complete toplines for all waves, please see the full data and methodology.