Press Release
New York Fed Survey Shows Consumer Expectations Remain Steady
June 9, 2014

NEW YORK—The Federal Reserve Bank of New York today released results from its May 2014 Survey of Consumer Expectations (SCE)  which provides insight into Americans’ views on inflation, prices, the labor market and household finance.  Consumer inflation expectations remained essentially unchanged from April at both the one-year ahead and the three-year ahead horizons. Median earnings growth expectations also remained flat at 2 percent annual growth. Mean household income growth expectations declined slightly to 2.3 percent, but remained within the narrow band (2.0 – 2.6 percent) observed over the last 12 months. Perceived credit availability continued to improve slightly.

Additional results from May 2014 include:

Inflation

  • Median inflation expectations at both the one-year and three-year ahead horizons remained essentially unchanged at 3.2 percent in May. Inflation uncertainty at both horizons also remained flat.
  • Median home price change expectations also remained stable at 4.0 percent from 3.8 percent in April. Median expected home price changes rose slightly in the West to 5.5 percent, reaching the highest level since the start of the survey in June 2013.
  • Median food and rent price change expectations remained stable. Gas price change expectations declined slightly to 4.8 percent, partially reversing increases over the past six months. Median medical care price change expectations continued a gradual decline observed since January 2014. Median expectations for changes in the cost of a college education declined from 9.1 to 7.9 percent, the lowest level since the start of the survey in June 2013.

Labor Market

  • Median earnings growth expectations remained unchanged at 2.0 percent.
  • The mean perceived probability of job loss and of leaving one’s job voluntarily in the next year remained stable. Younger and college-educated workers continue to perceive a higher likelihood of leaving their job voluntarily.
  • The mean probability of finding a job in three months among the currently employed (if current job was lost) rose slightly to 48.7 percent, but remained within the narrow range (45.7 – 49.6) that has prevailed over the last 12 months. 

Household Finance

  • Household income growth expectations declined slightly to 2.3 percent from 2.6 percent in April, but remained in the middle of the narrow band (2.0 – 2.6) observed over the last 12 months. Median household spending expectations also declined from 4.9 to 4.5 percent.
  • The expected one-year ahead change in taxes continued to rebound from a sharp decline in March, returning to levels observed in the first quarter of 2014.
  • Perceptions of credit availability continued to improve slightly 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.

Media Contact:

Matthew Ward
(212) 720-6885
matthew.ward@ny.frb.org