What can we expect in the way of inflation, job losses, and spending? Pretty much the same as last year, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The bank's Center for Microeconomic Data released the December 2018 Survey of Consumer Expectations this month, and it turns out that consumer expectations, in general, remained flat, even though some subsets were a little more scattered.
Median home price change expectations declined to 3 percent in December, marking the sixth consecutive decline since June. But within the overall household finance realm, there was much to notice.
While median expected household income expectations declined to 2.9 percent, median household spending growth expectations remained unchanged at 3.5 percent. Perceptions of credit access improved by 2 percent (to 28) from a year earlier; at the same time, about 1 percent fewer (21.7 percent) of respondents said they expect improving conditions in credit access. About 35 percent expect credit access to get tougher.
The most notable change in what to expect from the varied economic sectors was a worsening idea of what might become of the stock market.
“The mean perceived probability that U.S. stock prices will be higher 12 months from now than they are today decreased to 39.6 percent in December,” the report stated. That's the lowest level since October of 2016.
Slightly more people in December said they expect to be worse off financially, possibly fueled by a drop in the number of people who said the government could avoid growing debt.
That said, confidence in the current labor market remained essentially flat, though 3 percent more people said the job market will be worse off a year from now. Almost 36 percent of people said unemployment will be worse a year from now, even as fewer people said they worry about actual job losses. Even if a job is lost, nearly the same number of people – just north of 58 percent – said they wouldn't be worried about being able to find a new one.
Meanwhile, median inflation expectations at the one-year horizon remained unchanged at 3 percent. Inflation uncertainty–or the uncertainty expressed by respondents regarding future inflation outcomes–also remained unchanged.