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As consumer sentiment survey is released, differences emerge at different wealth levels

Mitchell Hartman Apr 26, 2024
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Wealthy and low-income households are not experiencing inflation the same way, says Kayla Bruun with Morning Consult. David McNew/Getty Images

As consumer sentiment survey is released, differences emerge at different wealth levels

Mitchell Hartman Apr 26, 2024
Heard on:
Wealthy and low-income households are not experiencing inflation the same way, says Kayla Bruun with Morning Consult. David McNew/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
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Back in 2022, as inflation spiked to multi-decade highs, consumer sentiment plummeted to multi-decade lows. It’s been creeping back up since then. But for the last few months, sentiment has been stuck at a sort-of middling level and still well below where it was in the decade before the pandemic.

We’ll get the latest pulse-taking on the all-important American consumer late Friday morning, with the University of Michigan’s final sentiment report for April. But for now?

“Overall the consumer seems to be in decent shape,” said Kayla Bruun at polling firm Morning Consult.

But drill down, she said, and you find big differences.  

“The higher-income group — they’re more likely to have a larger savings buffer. So when the inflation surge was really at its worst, they were bothered by it, they were hurt by it, but no one was really broken by it,” Brunn said.

And now, gains from stock- and home-ownership keep them spending it up.

By contrast: “The lower-income group, they have been persistently struggling. They just have such a small buffer in between their income and their expenses each month, not a lot of savings,” Brunn said.

High interest on credit cards and car loans only makes matters worse.

Chris Jackson at public-opinion firm Ipsos said one thing that seems to rankle everyone?

“The availability of affordable housing — a lot of Americans are saying is one of the number-one issues,” he said.

Whether they’re renters or buyers in this high-priced market. 

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