Press Release

Consumers’ Expectations Largely Stable in October

November 13, 2023

NEW YORK—The Federal Reserve Bank of New York's Center for Microeconomic Data today released the October 2023 Survey of Consumer Expectations, which shows that inflation expectations declined slightly at the short- and longer-term horizons while remaining unchanged at the medium-term horizon. Labor market expectations and household expectations of future income and spending growth were largely stable.

The main findings from the October 2023 Survey are:


  • Median inflation expectations declined at the one-year and five-year ahead horizons in October, falling to 3.6% from 3.7% and to 2.7% from 2.8%, respectively. Median inflation expectations at the three-year ahead horizon remained unchanged at 3.0%. The survey's measure of disagreement across respondents (the difference between the 75th and 25th percentile of inflation expectations) increased at the one-year ahead horizon and decreased at the three-year and five-year ahead horizons.
  • Median inflation uncertainty—or the uncertainty expressed regarding future inflation outcomes—increased slightly at the one-year ahead horizon, remained unchanged at the three-year ahead horizon, and declined at the five-year ahead horizon.
  • Median home price growth expectations were unchanged at 3.0%, remaining well above the series 12-month trailing average of 2.1%.
  • Median year-ahead expected price changes increased by 0.2 percentage point for gas to 5.0% and for the cost of a college education to 6.0%. They increased by 0.3 percentage point for medical care to 9.1%, while remaining flat for rent at 9.1% and food at 5.6%.

Labor Market

  • Median one-year ahead expected earnings growth decreased by 0.2 percentage point to 2.8%. The series has been moving within a narrow range of 2.8% to 3.0% since September 2021. The decline in October was driven by respondents below the age of 40 and without a college degree.
  • Mean unemployment expectations—or the mean probability that the U.S. unemployment rate will be higher one year from now—decreased by 1.5 percentage points to 38.6% , slightly below the series 12-month trailing average of 40.2%.
  • The mean perceived probability of losing one's job in the next 12 months increased slightly by 0.3 percentage point to 12.7%. The mean probability of leaving one's job voluntarily in the next 12 months remained unchanged at 18.2%.
  • The mean perceived probability of finding a job (if one's current job was lost) increased marginally to 56.6% from 56.5%.

Household Finance

  • Median expected growth in household income increased by 0.1 percentage point to 3.1% in October, remaining above the series February 2020 pre-pandemic level of 2.7%. 
  • Median household spending growth expectations were unchanged at 5.3%. While the series is well below its level of 7.0% from a year-ago, it remains well above its February 2020 pre-pandemic level of 3.1%.     
  • Perceptions of credit access compared to a year ago improved slightly with a decreased share of respondents reporting that it is more difficult to obtain credit now than a year ago. In contrast, expectations about future credit access worsened slightly with an increased share of respondents expecting tighter credit conditions a year from now.
  • The average perceived probability of missing a minimum debt payment over the next three months decreased by 0.5 percentage point to 12.0% , a level comparable to those prevailing just before the pandemic.
  • The median expected year-ahead change in taxes (at current income level) declined by 0.2 percentage point to 3.8%, its lowest reading over the past three years.
  • Median year-ahead expected growth in government debt increased to 9.8% from 9.5%.
  • The mean perceived probability that the average interest rate on saving accounts will be higher in 12 months decreased by 0.5 percentage point to 30.3%.
  • Perceptions about households' current financial situations improved in October with more respondents reporting being better off than a year ago and fewer respondents reporting being worse off. Year-ahead expectations were mixed with both a larger share of respondents expecting to be worse off and a larger share of respondents expecting to be better off a year from now.
  • The mean perceived probability that U.S. stock prices will be higher 12 months from now fell by 2.5 percentage points to 34.2%, its lowest level since October 2022.

About the Survey of Consumer Expectations (SCE)

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 regarding consumers' outlooks. 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 1,300 household heads. Respondents participate in the panel for up to 12 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, this panel allows us to observe the changes in expectations and behavior of the same individuals over time. For further information on the SCE, please refer to an overview of the survey methodology here, the interactive chart guide, and the survey questionnaire.

Mariah Measey
(347) 978-3071 
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