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Fed Survey Shows Stable Inflation Expectations

 

August 11 - The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has released results from its July 2014 Survey of Consumer Expectations (SCE)  which provides insight into Americans’ views on inflation, prices, the labor market and household finance. Consumer inflation expectations at both the one-year and three-year horizons have remained stable over the past nine months. Labor market expectations were mixed. While the probability of finding a job in three months (if current job was lost) rose to its highest level since the start of the survey, median earnings growth expectations decreased to 2.2 percent. Household finance expectations were also mixed in July. While expectations of income growth decreased, perceptions and expectations of credit availability continued to improve and the likelihood of not making a debt payment declined.

Additional results from July 2014 include:

Inflation
• Median inflation expectations at both the one-year and three-year ahead horizons were 3.1 and 3.2 percent in July, respectively. These expectations have remained very stable for the past 9 months. Inflation expectation uncertainty at both horizons declined slightly in July.
• Median home price change expectations at both the one-year and three-year ahead horizons remained essentially unchanged in July. For the second month in a row, consumers expected home prices to decrease in the West and increase in the Northeast. Home price change uncertainty was slightly lower in July.
• Commodity price change expectations at the one-year ahead horizon remained essentially unchanged in July. Medical care and college education expectations are still substantially higher than gas, food, and rent expectations, at approximately 9.5 percent to 5.5 percent, respectively. Commodity price expectations continue to be higher among respondents with below-median household income.

Labor Market
• Median earnings growth expectations at the one-year ahead horizon decreased from 2.5 percent to 2.2 percent, reverting to their one year average. The decrease was primarily driven by respondents over 60, and respondents with higher incomes.
• The mean perceived probability of losing one’s job in the next 12 months increased from 14.7 percent to 15.8 percent, while the mean probability of leaving one’s job decreased from 21.7 percent to 20.1 percent. Both values, however, remain near their 12-month averages.
• The mean expected probability of finding a job in three months among the currently employed (if current job was lost) continued to rise in July for the third month in a row, reaching 52.6 percent, the highest recorded value since the start of the survey in June 2013.

Household Finance
• Median household income growth expectations decreased from 2.6 percent to 2.2 percent in July, while median household spending expectations remained unchanged at 4.7 percent.
• Expected changes in taxes at the one-year ahead horizon continued to decline for the second month in a row, from 4.1 percent in May to 3.4 percent in July. The decline is largely attributable to lower expectations among older (60+) and less educated (no college) respondents.
• The mean expected probability of not being able to make a minimum debt payment improved for the fourth month in a row, reaching a new low of 12.7 percent from its peak of 17.2 percent in September 2013. The recent improvement is largely attributable to respondents with lower education, income and numeracy.
• Perceptions of credit availability continued to improve both relative to one year ago and looking ahead to a year from now.

About the Survey of Consumer Expectations
The SCE contains information about how consumers expect overall inflation and prices for food, gas, housing and education to behave. It also provides insight into Americans’ views about job prospects and earnings growth and their expectations about future spending and access to credit. The SCE also provides measures of uncertainty in expectations for the main outcomes of interest. Expectations are also available by age, geography, income, education and numeracy.

The SCE is a nationally representative, internet-based survey of a rotating panel of approximately 1,200 household heads. Respondents participate in the panel for up to twelve months, with a roughly equal number rotating in and out of the panel each month. Unlike comparable surveys based on repeated cross-sections with a different set of respondents in each wave, our panel allows us to observe the changes in expectations and behavior of the same individuals over time.

The survey is conducted on our behalf by The Demand Institute, a non-profit organization jointly operated by The Conference Board and Nielsen. The sampling frame for the SCE is based on that used for The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Survey (CCS). Respondents to the CCS, itself based on a representative national sample drawn from mailing addresses, are invited to join the SCE internet panel.


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