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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

    • Overview
      • In focus: credit score
        • Figure 1: Total consumer debt, by debt type, Q2 2018
        • Figure 2: Self-reported credit score, May 2018
      • Consumers with higher credit typically make more, have higher education
        • Figure 3: Self-reported credit score segmentation, May 2018
    • State of the Economy

      • Economic indicators mostly unchanged from Q2 2018
        • Figure 4: Key economic indicators, June 2018
      • Consumer confidence dips, but remains high
        • Figure 5: Consumer Sentiment Index, January 2017-May 2018
      • Unemployment and DPI change by less than 1%
        • Figure 6: Disposable Personal Income and unemployment rate, January 2018-April 2018
    • Current Financial Situation

      • Nearly 8 in 10 consider their financial situation to be fine
        • Figure 7: Opinion of current financial situation, May 2018
      • Consumer optimism remains high
        • Figure 8: Opinion of current financial situation, Q1 2017-Q2 2018
      • Excellent credit score reveals confidence in financial situation
        • Figure 9: Opinion of current financial situation, by credit score, May 2018
    • Changes in Financial Wellbeing

      • Highest number of consumers see no change in financial wellbeing
        • Figure 10: Potential for changes in financial wellbeing, May 2018
      • Financial wellbeing remains steady
        • Figure 11: Potential for changes in financial wellbeing, Q1 2017-Q2 2018
      • Consumers with low credit see greatest potential for moderate changes
        • Figure 12: Potential for changes in financial wellbeing, by credit score, May 2018
    • Improving Finances

      • Saving continues to be the most important for economic improvement
        • Figure 13: Factors to improve financial situation, May 2018
      • Importance of job stability falls, while generating supplemental or higher-income increases
        • Figure 14: Top factors to improve financial situation, job stability, and supplemental income, Q1 2017-Q2 2018
      • Consumers with lower credit scores place more value in working hard
        • Figure 15: Opinion of current financial situation, by credit score, May 2018
    • How Money Is Spent

      • Consumers both spend and save in almost equal measure
        • Figure 16: How money is spent, May 2018
      • Spending, saving behaviors remain consistent
        • Figure 17: How money is spent, Q1 2017-Q2 2018
      • Past three-month approach to debt differs by credit score
        • Figure 18: How money is spent, done in the past three months, by credit score, May 2018
      • Looking forward, top-tier credit plans to spend, while average credit plans to save
        • Figure 19: How money is spent, done in the past three months, by credit score, May 2018
    • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

      • Data sources
        • Consumer survey data
          • Abbreviations and terms
            • Abbreviations