Economic Report


Gains in sentiment were seen across age, education, income, region, and political affiliation

A customer shops in a Kroger grocery store on July 15, 2022 in Houston, Texas.

Brandon Bell/Getty Images

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The numbers : A survey of U.S. consumers saw sentiment rise in August as falling prices for gasoline helped bring expectations for inflation to their lowest level since December of last year.

The University of Michigan’s index of consumer sentiment rose to 58.2 this month from an initial reading of 55.1 and above July’s print of 51.1. Economists expected a reading of 55.2, according to a Wall Street Journal poll.

Consumer expectations for inflation over the next year fell to 4.8% in August from 5.2% last month, while expectations for inflation over the next five years held firm at 2.9%.

One-year inflation expectations are at their lowest level since December, while 5-year expectations remained at a 7-month low.

Big picture : Inflation remains a top concern for American consumers, though falling gas prices and attenuating price increases on other goods has helped to buoy their economic outlooks.

“The gains in sentiment were seen across age, education, income, region, and political affiliation, and can be attributed to the recent deceleration in inflation,” wrote Joanne Hsu, director of the survey.

“Lower-income consumers, who have fewer resources to buffer against inflation, posted particularly large gains on all index components,” she added.

“Their sentiment now even exceeds that of higher-income consumers, when it typically lags higher-income sentiment by over 15 points.

Hopefully this tentative improvement will continue, as overall sentiment remains extremely low by historical standards.”

Key details : A gauge of consumer’s views of current conditions rose to 58.6 in August from 58.1 in July, while an indicator of expectations for the next six months increased to 58 in August from 47.3 last month.

Market reaction : U.S. stocks were trading lower Friday, with both the Dow Jones Industrial Average  DJIA, +0.61%  and the S&P 500 SPX, +0.66% posting declines.