Consumer optimism buckled under the weight of escalating inflation in the early weeks of November, data from the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment survey showed Friday.
The Index of Consumer Sentiment fell to 66.8 from 71.7 at the end of October, the lowest read in over a decade. Economists had expected a slight improvement in the index.
“Consumer sentiment fell in early November to its lowest level in a decade due to an escalating inflation rate and the growing belief among consumers that no effective policies have yet been developed to reduce the damage from surging inflation,” said Richard Curtin, the survey’s chief economist.
The measure of current conditions fell to 73.2 from 77.7. The measure of expected future conditions also declined significantly, dropping to 62.8 from 67.9.
One-quarter of consumers said inflation had reduced their living standards in November, with lower income and older consumers saying they had been hit the hardest.
“Rising prices for homes, vehicles, and durables were reported more frequently than any other time in more than half a century,” Curtin said.
Although consumers reported nominal income gains, half of all families said they expected reduced real incomes next year. Breitbart News reported this week that real average weekly and hourly wages fell in October due to high inflation.
“The description that inflation would be ‘transient'” has the undertone that consumers could ‘grin and bear it’ as economic policies counted on a quick and automatic self-correction to supply and labor shortages. Instead, the pandemic caused economic dislocation unlike any prior recession, and has been intertwined with partisan interpretations of economic developments,” Curtin said.
Curtin said that views of the economy differ by political affiliation.
“Partisans with the President’s party have adopted very positive moods, and those in the opposing camp very negative moods. As a result, partisan supporters of one or the other presidents either mentioned or ignored rising home and stock values, inflation and income growth rates, or mentioned or ignored employment or unemployment rates, and so forth,” Curtin said.