Press Release

Inflation Expectations Increase at the Medium and Longer-Term Horizons

March 11, 2024

NEW YORK—The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Center for Microeconomic Data today released the February 2024 Survey of Consumer Expectations, which shows that inflation expectations remained unchanged at the short-term horizon, while increasing at the medium- and longer-term horizons. Earnings growth and household income growth expectations remained unchanged, while spending growth expectations increased slightly. The average perceived likelihood of voluntary and involuntary job separation increased, while the perceived likelihood of finding a job in the event of a job loss declined. Perceptions and expectations about credit access turned less optimistic.

The main findings from the February 2024 Survey are:


  • Median inflation expectations remained unchanged at 3.0% at the one-year horizon, increased to 2.7% from 2.4% at the three-year ahead horizon, and increased to 2.9% from 2.5% at the five-year ahead horizon. The increases in both the three-year ahead and five-year ahead measures were most pronounced for respondents with at most high school degrees. The survey’s measure of disagreement across respondents (the difference between the 75th and 25th percentile of inflation expectations) decreased at all horizons.
  • Median inflation uncertainty—or the uncertainty expressed regarding future inflation outcomes—declined at the one- and three-year ahead horizons and remained unchanged at the five-year ahead horizon.
  • Median home price growth expectations remained unchanged for the fifth consecutive month at 3.0%.
  • Median year-ahead expected price changes increased by 0.1 percentage point to 4.3% for gas; decreased by 1.8 percentage points to 6.8% for the cost of medical care (its lowest reading since September 2020); decreased by 0.1 percentage point to 5.8% for the cost of a college education; decreased by 0.3 percentage point for rent to 6.1% (its lowest reading since December 2020); and remained flat for food at 4.9%.

Labor Market

  • Median one-year-ahead expected earnings growth was unchanged at 2.8%, remaining slightly below its 12-month trailing average of 2.9%.
  • Mean unemployment expectations—or the mean probability that the U.S. unemployment rate will be higher one year from now—decreased by 1.1 percentage points to 36.1%, the lowest reading since February 2022.
  • The mean perceived probability of losing one’s job in the next 12 months increased by 2.7 percentage points to 14.5%. The mean probability of leaving one’s job voluntarily in the next 12 months also increased, by 1.8 percentage points to 19.5%. For both series, the increases were the most pronounced for respondents with annual household incomes less than $50,000.
  • The mean perceived probability of finding a job if one’s current job was lost declined to 52.5% from 54.2% in January.

Household Finance

  • Median expected growth in household income remained unchanged at 3.1%. The series has been moving within a narrow range of 2.9% to 3.3% since January 2023, and remains above the February 2020 pre-pandemic level of 2.7%.
  • Median household spending growth expectations increased by 0.2 percentage point to 5.2%. The increase was driven by respondents with a high school degree or less.
  • Perceptions of credit access compared to a year ago deteriorated with a larger share of respondents reporting tighter conditions and a smaller share reporting looser conditions compared to a year ago. Expectations about credit access a year from now also deteriorated with a smaller share of respondents expecting looser credit conditions and a larger 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 0.7 percentage point to 11.4%.
  • The median expected year-ahead change in taxes at current income level remained unchanged at 3.9%.
  • Median year-ahead expected growth in government debt increased to 9.3% from 8.9%.
  • The mean perceived probability that the average interest rate on saving accounts will be higher in 12 months increased by 0.6 percentage point to 26.1%, remaining below its 12-month trailing average of 30%.
  • Perceptions about households’ current financial situations deteriorated somewhat with fewer respondents reporting being better off than a year ago. Year-ahead expectations also deteriorated marginally with a smaller share of respondents expecting to be better off and a slightly larger share of respondents expecting to be worse off a year from now.
  • The mean perceived probability that U.S. stock prices will be higher 12 months from now increased by 1.4 percentage point to 38.9%.

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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