The New York Federal Reserve Bank just released its May Survey of Consumer Expectations.
The SCE is a nationally-representative internet-based survey of a rotating panel of approximately 1,300 household heads. Launched in 2013, the SCE focuses on expectations about economic outcomes related to inflation, the labor market and household finance.
The goals of the survey are threefold:
- Measure consumer expectations at a high frequency
- Understand how these expectations are formed
- Investigate the link between expectations and behavior
CLICK HERE if you’d like to learn more about the survey’s methodology.
Here is a summary of the learning for the May SCE:
- Median inflation expectations at both the one-year and three-year horizons remained unchanged in May at 3.0%. Inflation uncertainty increased to its highest level since March 2017.
- Median home price change expectations remained flat at 3.7% in May, still well above their trailing 12-month average of 3.3%. Home price growth uncertainty rose to its highest level since May 2017.
- The median one-year-ahead expected gasoline price change increased from 4.8% in April to 5.2% in May, its highest reading since June 2016. Expectations for changes in the cost of medical care, college education and rent also increased from 8.9%, 6.3% and 5.5% to 9.3%, 6.7% and 5.7%, respectively. Expectations for changes in food prices, on the other hand, declined from 4.7% in April to 4.5% in May.
- Median one-year-ahead earnings growth expectations declined from 2.7% in April to 2.5% in May, tying its 12-month trailing average. The decrease was most pronounced among older (at least 40 years old) and lower-educated (high school degree or less) respondents.
- Mean unemployment expectations—or the mean probability that the U.S. unemployment rate will be higher one year from now—decreased slightly from 34.9% in April to 34.1% in May, just below their 2-month trailing average of 34.8%.
- Both the mean perceived probability of losing one’s job in the next 12 months and the mean probability of leaving one’s job voluntarily in the next 12 months increased, from 13.7% to 14.0%, and from 20.5% to 21.4%, respectively.
- The mean perceived probability of finding a job (if one’s current job was lost) increased to 59.9% in May, just 0.2 percentage points below the series’ high reached in November 2017.
- Median expected household income growth decreased from 2.9% in April to 2.6% in May. The decline was most pronounced among lower-educated (high-school degree or less) and lower-income (annual income below $50,000) respondents.
- Median household spending growth expectations retreated to 3.0% in May, after increasing for three consecutive months. This reading is equal to its trailing 12-month average.
- The median expectation regarding year-ahead change in taxes (at current income level) increased to 2.2%, its third consecutive increase since reaching a series low of 1.5% in February.
- The perceived change in credit availability compared to a year ago improved in May, with the proportion of respondents reporting easier credit access compared to a year ago increasing from 22.1% to 23.9%. However, expectations for year-ahead credit availability worsened slightly in May, with the proportion expecting tightening in credit access increasing slightly from 29.1% to 30.4%.
- The average perceived probability of missing a minimum debt payment over the next three months increased slightly from 11.0 % in April to 11.7% in May. The increase was broad-based across age groups.
- The mean perceived probability that the average interest rate on saving accounts will be higher 12 months from now than it is today declined from 36.8% in April to 36.4% in May.
- One-year-ahead expectations of households’ financial situations worsened somewhat, with 13.7% of respondents expecting to be worse off financially, compared to 11.8% in April.
- The mean perceived probability that U.S. stock prices will be higher 12 months from now than they are today increased to 42.0% in May, remaining below its trailing 12-month average of 43.0%.