Updated Feb 13, 2023 - Economy & Business

What consumers expect on inflation

Data: Federal Reserve Bank of New York; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Federal Reserve Bank of New York; Chart: Axios Visuals

Consumers remain confident prices won't accelerate in the years to come. Still, Americans do expect inflation to remain high across various time horizons — something the Federal Reserve doesn't like.

What's new: That story remained intact in the latest Survey of Consumer Expectations, released this morning by the New York Fed, with signs consumers anticipate more subdued spending levels and slowing income growth.

By the numbers: The median consumer expects inflation in the year ahead to be above 5%, unchanged from the prior month. The three-year-ahead median inflation expectation fell by 0.3 percentage points to 2.7%.

The intrigue: Labor market expectations darkened slightly, driven largely by more pessimism among college-educated workers and those with household incomes above $100,000.

  • The mean probability that the U.S. unemployment rate will be higher in a year's time rose by 0.4 percentage points to 41.2%, with little to no increase among those with some college (or just a high school diploma) and those who make less than $50,000.

Yes, but: This cohort is also among the most pessimistic about prospects for income growth. The median expected growth in household income growth plummeted to 3.3% — the biggest one-month plunge in the survey's history.

  • The decline was most pronounced among the least educated and poorest consumers, plus survey respondents over the age of 60.

Of note: Consumers, overall, continued to mark down spending plans in January. Median household spending growth expectations fell for the third straight month — to 5.7% from 5.9%.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that the median three-year ahead consumer inflation expectation fell by 0.3 percentage points, not 0.2 percentage points, as originally stated by the New York Fed.

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