The University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey provides a snapshot of how American consumers are taking all the recent dramatic economic news: inflation, still at 40-year highs; oil prices, uncertain as OPEC tries to cut production; the global economy, and financial markets in turmoil.
It’s a bewildering time to be an American consumer.
Consumer sentiment hit rock-bottom as inflation spiked in late spring. It’s crept up — a bit — as gas prices have moderated.
But it’s still “pretty bleak right now,” according to Chris Jackson at polling firm Ipsos, who said said consumers are conflicted. They’re anxious about inflation, but not about their jobs.
“The inflation piece of it, which is painful for people, it’s a slower kind of burn, something you have to figure out how to navigate around. Losing your job is something that’s cataclysmic,” he said.
So at the moment, with unemployment low and wages rising, people still feel like spending.
Psychologist Ayelet Fishbach at the University of Chicago said after nearly three years of economic tumult, consumers aren’t sure what to do about the future.
“Should I relax or should I do something, and if I should do something, what is it exactly? Should I sell or should I buy? Should I wait or should I consume?” she said.
Most working Americans haven’t experienced high inflation as adults, creating even more anxiety — about the economic unknown.
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