Economic Sentiment Unchanged As Consumers Digest Mixed Economic Signals

Overall economic sentiment was unchanged over the past two weeks, as consumers digested an array of differing economic indicators. The HPS-CivicScience Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) remained at 42.5.

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While overall economic sentiment remained the same since last period, the ESI’s five constituent indicators did make moves. Confidence in personal finances rose 2.1 points to 57.4. Meanwhile, confidence in the overall U.S. economy declined 1.3 points to 36.7.

Consumers are seeing mixed economic signals and raising questions surrounding the impact inflation and the Delta variant. Consumer spending is still outpacing pre-pandemic levels: JPMorgan Chase debit and credit card spending, for example, is currently 18-19% higher than 2019 levels. Yet the economy also faces a variety of potential headwinds; some employees are seeing wage increases get eaten up by inflation, while many businesses are reworking Labor Day return-to-work plans because of Delta variant fears. Here is how the ESI’s other indicators moved:

– Confidence in finding a new job declined 0.8 points to 56.2

– Confidence in making a major purchase declined 0.1 points to 31.6

– Confidence in the housing market rose 0.2 points to 30.6

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The ESI’s three-day moving average began at 43.4 on September 1, remaining largely flat before bottoming out at 41.8 on September 7. The moving average then rose over the second week and closed out at its high of 43.7 on September 14.

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The next release of the ESI will be Wednesday, September 29, 2021.