U.S. consumer sentiment shows stability
Washington, DC, September 22, 2022 – Americans’ economic sentiment’s is unchanged, as the Ipsos-Forbes Advisor U.S. Consumer Confidence Tracker shows a gain in its main index of just 0.1 point from two weeks ago. The index continues to sit at levels seen for much of the summer and remains significantly lower than it did to start the year. The Overall index is currently around seven points lower than its reading in early January.
After falling more than 4 points each in the last reading, the Current and Investment sub-indices gained roughly 1 point each this wave. In contrast, the Expectations sub-index is the only one to decline and continues to sit at lower levels seen in the early part of the pandemic.
The Jobs sub-index is essentially stable from two weeks ago. Americans’ purchasing confidence is also stable, as two in three report being less comfortable making both major and other household purchases than they were six months ago.
While overall sentiment is stable, this reading highlights a shift in Americans’ spending habits amid another month of price increases, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There is a significant increase in the number of Americans who are withdrawing from their savings more than usual and investing or saving money less than usual. Both measures are at their highest levels since tracking started in November 2021.
Lastly, sentiment continues to differ widely among demographic groups. Democrats, those earning $100K+, and Westerners show scores significantly higher than the total population. In contrast, Republicans, the unemployed, those earning less than $50K, and rural Americans continue to have significantly lower index scores.
Read the full story from Forbes Advisor here.
Learn more about the Ipsos Global Consumer Confidence Index and sub-indices via the interactive portal, Ipsos Consolidated Economic Indicators (IpsosGlobalIndicators.com) including graphic comparisons, trended data and all the questions on which they are based.
1. Reading at 50.0, the latest Overall Consumer Confidence index is up 0.1 point from two weeks ago.
- The Overall Confidence Index is currently 3.4 points below the pandemic average and 10.1 points below where it stood in early March 2020, prior to the first lockdowns (60.1). The index now sits 2.9 points lower than its 20-year historical average.
2. The Expectations sub-index, down 0.7 point from two weeks ago, is the only sub-index to decline from two weeks ago. The index continues to sit below its pandemic and historical averages, as well as its pre-pandemic reading. Lastly, the Expectations index sits below the 60-point mark for the eleventh consecutive reading, a threshold it never crossed in 2021.
3. After sustaining losses of more than 4 points each last reading, the Current and Investment sub-indices gained roughly one point each this reading.
- Despite recouping some of their respective losses, the Current Index and Investment Index scores continue to remain significantly lower than they were pre-pandemic, now by 14.7 points and 14.4 points, respectively. The Current Index now sits 6.2 points lower than both its pandemic and 20-year historical averages, while the Investment Index is nearly 8 points lower than these respective averages.
4. The Jobs sub-index remains stable this reading, gaining 0.6 point. It continues to remain relatively strong, exceeding its pandemic average by 5.1 points and its historical average by 5.8 points. The index now sits 4.5 points below its pre-pandemic reading.
- The proportion of Americans who say they are more confident in their job security now compared to six months ago is at 49%, up 3 points from two weeks ago.
- The proportion of Americans reporting they, a family member, or a personal acquaintance lost their job in the past six months due to economic conditions is at 26%, up 2 points from two weeks ago.
- In addition, 39% say it’s at least somewhat likely that they, a family member, or a personal acquaintance will lose their job in the next six months due to economic conditions, down 2 points from two weeks ago.
5. As inflation continues its historic rise, the number of Americans that report spending and investing/saving money as much as usual is at around two in five, the lowest point for these measures since tracking started in November 2021.
Despite this shift away from consistent habits, Americans who do report a change are exercising caution. Those who say they spend money, borrow money/use credit, invest/save money, and pay off their loans/credit more than usual are outnumbered by those who say they do these things less than usual.
However, for the third time in four months, the amount that draw from their savings more than usual outnumbers those who do so less than usual.
6. The most notable change versus four weeks ago is an increase in the percentage of those saying they are now investing/saving money less than usual (46%, up 8 points since late August and reaching its highest point since tracking started in November 2021).
Another notable change versus four weeks ago is an increase in the percentage of those saying they are now drawing from their savings more than usual (29%, up 8 points since late August and reaching its highest point since tracking started).
7. Purchasing confidence is stable this week, as two in three continue to remain less comfortable making both major and other household purchases than they were six months ago.
- 33% say they are more comfortable making major household purchases compared to six months ago, up 1 point from the previous reading.
- 35% say they are more comfortable making other household purchases compared to six months ago, up 1 point from the previous reading.
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 the US? Is it… very good, somewhat good, somewhat bad or very bad?
- 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.
- 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?
- 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
- 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?
- Compared to 6 months ago, are you NOW more or less comfortable making a major purchase, like a home or car?
- Compared to 6 months ago, are you NOW more or less comfortable making other household purchases?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
Q. In the past few months, have you done each of the following more than, less than, or as much as you usually do?
- Draw from your savings
- Spend money
- Invest or save money
- Borrow money or use credit
- Pay off your loans/credit
About the Study
These findings are based on data from an Ipsos survey conducted September 19 – 20, 2022 with a sample of 942 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 2019 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, education, and party identification. Party ID benchmarks are from recent ABC News/Washington Post telephone polls.
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 3.9 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. For n=942, DEFF=1.5 and adjusted Confidence Interval=+/-5.4 percentage points.
Findings from March 2010 to early March 2020 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.
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