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posted on 13 April 2015

Consumers Expectations Rebounded in March 2015

from the New York Fed

Results from the March 2015 Survey of Consumer Expectations suggest that expectations have rebounded compared to last month. In particular, after a marked decline in February, expectations about home prices, earnings growth and household spending returned to levels that prevailed during the second half of 2014.

Other findings from the March 2015 Survey include:


  • The median one-year and three-year ahead inflation expectations at 2.9 percent remained essentially unchanged compared to last month.
  • After a marked decline in February, the median one year ahead house price inflation expectation bounced back, increasing 0.4 percentage points to 3.4 percent. The increase was relatively consistent across demographic groups, but was most pronounced for respondents with higher income and respondents living in the Midwest.
  • Expectations about one year ahead gasoline price changes again showed substantial month-to-month volatility: After a sharp increase last month, the median decreased by 2.7 percentage points to 5.9 percent in March.

Labor Market

  • After a steep decline in February, the median one year ahead earnings growth expectation increased by 0.4 percentage points to 2.6 percent, the second highest level since the series began in June 2013. Although relatively consistent across demographic groups, the increase is most notable for respondents with lower education and lower income.
  • Job separation expectations increased slightly. The average perceived probability of leaving one's job voluntarily increased by 0.3 percentage point to 21.5 percent, while the average perceived probability of losing one's job increased by 0.7 percentage points to 15.0 percent.
  • The mean probability of finding a job in the next three months (conditional on losing one's job today) increased for the fourth consecutive month to 55.7 percent, the highest level since the inception of the survey in June 2013. The increase was driven primarily by individuals with higher income and with a college education.

Household Finance

  • One year ahead median household income growth expectations increased by 0.2 percentage points to 2.9 percent, the highest level in the series.
  • After a marked decline last month, one year ahead household spending expectations increased by 0.7 percentage point to 4.5 percent, returning to levels more consistent with those observed in recent months. The increase was consistent across demographic subgroups.
  • Expected (and perceived) change in credit availability a year from now or compared to a year ago remained essentially unchanged compared to the last month. The average probability of missing a minimum debt payment over the next three months increased by 0.4 percentage points to 12.4 percent.

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.

About the SCE Credit Access Survey

The SCE Credit Access Survey, fielded as part of the SCE (Survey of Consumer Expectations), provides information on consumers' experiences and expectations regarding credit demand and credit access. Every four months, SCE panelists are asked whether they applied for credit in the past 12 months, and the resulting outcomes. They are also asked about their expectations of applying for credit over the next twelve months, and the perceived likelihood of those applications being accepted. We collect this information for five specific credit products: auto loans, credit cards, credit card limit increases, mortgages, and mortgage refinancing. Survey findings (in instances with sufficient sample sizes) are also presented separately by age and self-reported credit score subgroups.

A full set of interactive charts detailing the monthly SCE Credit Access Survey findings can be found here.

More information about the SCE survey goals, design, and content can be found here.

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