The Federal Reserve Bank of New York's Center for Microeconomic Data released the April 2020 Survey of Consumer Expectations, which shows considerable deterioration in households' expectations about most economic outcomes, including household debt. The perceived probability of losing one's job reached a new series' high for the second consecutive month.
Median inflation expectations increased in April by 0.1 percentage point at the one-year horizon to 2.6% and by 0.2 percentage point at the three-year horizon to 2.6%. Respondents, however, increasingly disagree about the future path of inflation. The Fed's measure of disagreement (the difference between the 75th and 25th percentiles of inflation expectations), increased for the second consecutive month at both horizons (from 5.1% and 4.4% in March to 6.0% and 4.7% in April for one-year and three-year ahead inflation, respectively). Disagreement about one-year ahead inflation reached a new series high in April.
Median household income growth expectations dropped to 1.9% in April, reaching a new series low. The decrease was almost exclusively driven by respondents between the ages of 40 and 60. Additionally, 21.9% of respondents expect that their household income will decrease over the next year.
The average perceived probability of missing a minimum debt payment over the next three months increased for the second consecutive month to 16.2% in April, well above its 12-month trailing average of 11.9%.
Perceptions about households' current financial situations compared to a year ago worsened for the second consecutive month, with 39.2% of respondents reporting to be worse off today than a year ago (versus 30.2% in March). Respondents are also increasingly pessimistic about their year-ahead financial situations with 31.6% of respondents expecting their households to be worse financially a year from now (versus 27.8% in March).
Additionally, perceptions of credit access compared to a year ago deteriorated sharply in April, with 48.0% of respondents reporting access to credit being harder, as compared to 32.1% in March. Expectations for year-ahead credit availability also deteriorated in April, with 46.7% of respondents expecting that credit will become harder to access, as compared to 38.8% in March.