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US Consumers and the Economic Outlook Consumer Report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Consumers and the Economic Outlook market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

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What are the key challenges facing the industry and how fast are its rates of growth? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Summary

The US economy weathered the political tumult of 2017 with surprising vigor, as most major economic indicators fared increasingly better throughout the year. The nation’s GDP (gross domestic product) has been on the rise for 17 consecutive quarters, and consumer confidence has been marching forward at record levels, while unemployment continues to drop.

US and global stock markets saw immense growth and record highs in 2017, but have also experienced significant volatility in the early months of 2018. While the Federal Reserve raised interest rates three times in 2017-reflecting faith in an improving economy and labor market-rising inflation and uncertainty surrounding future monetary policy have resulted in a market correction and much consternation among financial analysts. Furthermore, consumers have yet to experience a significant increase in their purchasing power, owing to a stagnation or even reduction in real wages for the majority of the middle class, as well as a rising CPI (consumer price index).

Despite these issues, the American consumer remains largely confident and most individuals feel that their economic situation will change for the better over the course of the next twelve months. Further buoying the national sentiment is the optimism of the country’s youngest consumers, as iGen and Millennial respondents are significantly more likely than older generations to anticipant future financial improvements.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Chris Shadle, a leading analyst in the Financial Services sector, his extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

The US economy weathered the political tumult of 2017 with surprising vigor, as most major economic indicators fared increasingly better throughout the year. The nation’s GDP (gross domestic product) has been on the rise for 17 consecutive quarters, and consumer confidence has been marching forward at record levels, while unemployment continues to drop. Chris Shadle
Financial Services Analyst

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Table of contents

  1. Executive Summary

    • Economic overview
      • In focus: iGeneration
      • State of the Economy

        • Economic indicators remain strong moving into Q2 2018
          • Figure 1: Key economic indicators, January 2018
          • Figure 2: Consumer sentiment index, January 2003-December 2017
          • Figure 3: Unemployment and underemployment, January 2007-January 2018
        • Personal finance market growth predicted to outpace economy at large
          • Figure 4: Best- and worst-case forecast value of personal finance, at current prices, 2012-22
      • Current Financial Situation

        • Roughly 40% of consumers consider their financial situation “Healthy”
          • Figure 5: Opinion on current financial situation, February 2018
        • Trended data shows slight regression to the mean
          • Figure 6: Opinion on current financial situation, Q1 2017-Q1 2018
        • iGen financial situation most likely to be rated “OK”
          • Figure 7: Opinion on current financial situation, by generation, February 2018
      • Changes in Financial Wellbeing

        • Most consumers expect their financial situation to improve
          • Figure 8: Change in financial situation over the next year, February 2018
        • A sense of future improvement has been the trend
          • Figure 9: Change in financial situation over the next year, Q1 2017-Q1 2018
        • iGen consumers are the most optimistic about the coming year
          • Figure 10: Change in financial situation over the next year, by generation, February 2018
        • The future looks brighter in the city
          • Figure 11: Change in financial situation over the next year, by area, February 2018
      • Improving Finances

        • Saving money has the biggest impact on improving finances, yet follow-through lags
          • Figure 12: Top most important factors in improving current financial situation, February 2018
          • Figure 13: Factors driving economic situation improvements, Q1 2017-Q2 2018
          • Figure 14: Personal savings rate percentage, monthly, seasonally adjusted annual rate, January 1980-January 2018
        • Millennials and iGen consumers see the value in hard work
          • Figure 15: Important factors in improving current financial situation, by generation, February 2018
          • Figure 16: Top factors for success, adult iGens, March 2017
        • iGen consumers see more ways to improve themselves
          • Figure 17: Important factors in improving current financial situation, by generation, February 2018
        • Millennials and iGen consumers expect help reaching their goals
          • Figure 18: Attitudes toward banks and banking, help reaching financial goals, by generation, November 2017
          • Figure 19: Chase, email campaign, Feb. 27, 2018
      • Spending Plans

        • Consumers plan to travel, spend money on home
          • Figure 20: Past and future spending plans, February 2018
          • Figure 21: How money is spent, Q1 2017-Q1 2018
        • iGen consumers plan to save more than older generations
          • Figure 22: Past and future spending plans, February 2018
        • Younger consumers eye big-ticket electronic purchases
          • Figure 23: Past and future spending plans, February 2018
      • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

        • Data sources
          • Consumer survey data
            • Direct marketing creative
              • Abbreviations and terms
                • Abbreviations