U.S. consumer confidence reflects national uncertainty

Americans can’t decide which way the economy is headed

The author(s)

  • Catherine Morris Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
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Visit our interactive portal, Ipsos Consolidated Economic Indicators (IpsosGlobalIndicators.com) for graphic comparisons and trended data pertaining to the Ipsos Global Consumer Confidence Index and  sub-indices -- and all the questions on which they are based.


Washington, DC, June 25, 2020 — At 51.6, Ipsos’s Consumer Confidence index has increased just slightly from the week before, continuing the same oscillating trend seen over the past three weeks.

Similarly, the Current, Investment and Jobs sub-indices all saw an improvement this week after a downturn last week. The one constant over the past fortnight lies in the Expectations sub-index, reflective of Americans’ relative levels of optimism about the future. Expectations, at 66.2, remains high and is essentially unchanged from last week. Republicans, retired and employed Americans continue to be the most optimistic about future prospects relative to Democrats, Independents and unemployed Americans.

This oscillation – taking a step forward one week, a step back the next – reflects general uncertainty as the nation’s attempts to reopen for business are threatened by a renewed surge in newly reported coronavirus cases in many states.

Just over half of Americans still believe that the economy will recover quickly once social distancing restrictions are relaxed, but another half think that the nation should not reopen until the virus is contained. This split is driven by partisan differences in opinion – Republicans tend to think that the economy will bounce back quickly and favor reopening, while Democrats tend to hold opposing views on both counts.

Detailed Findings

1. Scoring at 51.6, the latest overall Consumer Confidence index is showing muted growth.

  • The Confidence index is about 12 points lower than it was at the beginning of the year (63.4), 8.5 points lower than in early March (60.1) and less than one point off the historical average.
  • Despite ongoing societal and economic uncertainty brought about by the pandemic, the index is currently 16.4 points higher than its historical low of 35.2 in March 2009.

Consumer Confidence

2. All sub-indices – other than Expectations – increased by 2 to 4 points, reversing last week’s downward trend.

Sub-indices

3. The Jobs index continues to edge up despite sustained, historically high unemployment levels.

  • 45% say they, someone in their family, or someone else they know personally lost their job in the last six months as a result of economic conditions.
  • However, only 15% say it’s extremely or very likely that it will be the case in the next six months (down from 29% in late March-early April).
  • Most Americans still lack confidence in their job security, with 58% saying that they feel less confident about job security for themselves, their family and other people they know. Opinion has also been volatile on this metric, reverting back close to where it was two weeks ago (57%).

4. As has been the case for some time now, Americans are divided on the question of whether the economy will recover quickly once restrictions are relaxed (51% agree, 45% disagree). The number who think the recovery will be slow grew by 2 points from last week.

Recover quickly

5. As new coronavirus cases spike in many states, 50% of Americans do not believe that the nation should reopen for business until the virus is contained. Republicans are significantly more in favor of reopening (71%) than Democrats (24%).
Restart the economy

6. Most Americans are still uncomfortable with making major and other household purchases.

  • Compared to six months ago, 61% say they are less comfortable making a major purchase like a home or a car, down from 66% last week.

Major Purchase

  • Compared to six months ago, 56% say they are less comfortable making other household purchases, reverting to similarly low levels of confidence seen two weeks ago.

Other Purchase


Questions

The data used for the Consumer Confidence index and sub-indices is based on the following questions:

  1. Now, thinking about our economic situation, how would you describe the current economic situation in US? Is it… very good, somewhat good, somewhat bad or very bad?
  2. Rate the current state of the economy in your local area using a scale from 1 to 7, where 7 means a very strong economy today and 1 means a very weak economy.
  3. Looking ahead six months from now, do you expect the economy in your local area to be much stronger, somewhat stronger, about the same, somewhat weaker, or much weaker than it is now?
  4. Rate your current financial situation, using a scale from 1 to 7, where 7 means your personal financial situation is very strong today and 1 means it is very weak
  5. Looking ahead six months from now, do you expect your personal financial situation to be much stronger, somewhat stronger, about the same, somewhat weaker, or much weaker than it is now?
  6. Compared to 6 months ago, are you NOW more or less comfortable making a major purchase, like a home or car?
  7. Compared to 6 months ago, are you NOW more or less comfortable making other household purchases?
  8. Compared to 6 months ago, are you NOW more or less confident about job security for yourself, your family and other people you know personally?
  9. Compared to 6 months ago, are you NOW more or less confident of your ability to invest in the future, including your ability to save money for your retirement or your children’s education?
  10. Thinking of the last 6 months, have you, someone in your family or someone else you know personally lost their job as a result of economic conditions?
  11. Now look ahead at the next six months. How likely is it that you, someone in your family or someone else you know personally will lose their job in the next six months as a result of economic conditions?

Additional questions

Q. To what extend do you agree with the each of the following

  • The economy will recover quickly once the restrictions to control the coronavirus pandemic are relaxed.
  • We should restart the economy and allow businesses to open even if the virus is still not fully contained.

 


About the Study

These findings are based on data from an Ipsos survey conducted June 23-24, 2020 with a sample of 958 adults aged 18-74 from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii who were interviewed online in English. The sample was randomly drawn from Ipsos’ online panel, partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing a sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2016 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Post-hoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, and education.

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online non-probability polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=958, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=+/-5.1 percentage points).

Findings from previous time periods going back to March 2011 are based on data from Refinitiv /Ipsos’ Primary Consumer Sentiment Index (PCSI) collected in a monthly survey on Ipsos’ Global Advisor online survey platform with the same questions. For the PCSI survey, Ipsos interviews a total of 1,000+ U.S. adults aged 18-74. The Refinitiv/Ipsos Primary Consumer Sentiment Index (PCSI), ongoing since 2010, is a monthly survey of consumer attitudes on the current and future state of local economies, personal finance situations, savings and confidence to make large investments. The PCSI metrics reported each month consist of a “Primary Index” based on 10 questions available upon request and of several “sub-indices” each based on a subset of these 10 questions. Those sub-indices include a Current Index, an Expectations Index, an Investment Index and a Jobs Index.

Findings for January 2002- February 2011 are based on data from the RBC CASH Index, a monthly telephone survey of 1,000 U.S. adults aged 18 and older conducted by Ipsos with a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Chris Jackson
Vice President, U.S., Public Affairs
Ipsos
+1 202 420 2025
chris.jackson@ipsos.com

Kate Silverstein
Media Relations Specialist, U.S., Public Affairs
Ipsos
+1 718 755-8829
kate.silverstein@ipsos.com

For more information on COVID-19 please click here

About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third largest market research company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).

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    • Compared to six months ago, 68% say they are less comfortable making a major purchase like a home or a car, down from 74% last week.
    • Compared to six months ago, 62% say they are less comfortable making other household purchases, down from 68%.
    1. Now, thinking about our economic situation, how would you describe the current economic situation in US? Is it… very good, somewhat good, somewhat bad or very bad?
    2. Rate the current state of the economy in your local area using a scale from 1 to 7, where 7 means a very strong economy today and 1 means a very weak economy.
    3. Looking ahead six months from now, do you expect the economy in your local area to be much stronger, somewhat stronger, about the same, somewhat weaker, or much weaker than it is now?
    4. Rate your current financial situation, using a scale from 1 to 7, where 7 means your personal financial situation is very strong today and 1 means it is very weak
    5. Looking ahead six months from now, do you expect your personal financial situation to be much stronger, somewhat stronger, about the same, somewhat weaker, or much weaker than it is now?
    6. Compared to 6 months ago, are you NOW more or less comfortable making a major purchase, like a home or car?
    7. Compared to 6 months ago, are you NOW more or less comfortable making other household purchases?
    8. Compared to 6 months ago, are you NOW more or less confident about job security for yourself, your family and other people you know personally?
    9. Compared to 6 months ago, are you NOW more or less confident of your ability to invest in the future, including your ability to save money for your retirement or your children’s education?
    10. Thinking of the last 6 months, have you, someone in your family or someone else you know personally lost their job as a result of economic conditions?
    11. Now look ahead at the next six months. How likely is it that you, someone in your family or someone else you know personally will lose their job in the next six months as a result of economic conditions?
    1. To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following?
      1. The economy will recover quickly once the lockdown is over
      2. We should restart the economy and allow businesses to open even if the virus is still not fully contained

The author(s)

  • Catherine Morris Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs

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