Quarterly Report: Q1 Gains Concentrated Among The Young

According to the Q1 2014 Economic Sentiment Report. the quarterly measure of the ESI rose in the first quarter of 2014 after a significant dip in the fourth quarter of 2013. Following this rally, however, the latest two-week ESI rolling average shows consumer confidence fell in April and remains below 2014 highs. The quarterly report examines confidence by income, region, occupation, age, and more.

Q1 ESI Report

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Key findings are:
  • The quarterly measure of the ESI rose in the first quarter of 2014, but remains below its level from a year ago. Looking at the two-week and three-day rolling average of the ESI, the government shutdown most likely caused the decline in the fourth quarter of 2013 ESI. The latest two-week rolling average reading is at a 2014 high.
  • While confidence rose across all incomes in Q1’14, only those making below 35K hit or surpassed 2013 highs. Overall, higher income groups reported higher levels of confidence compared to lower income groups.
  • Younger groups have higher levels of confidence and saw larger gains in Q1’14 compared to older groups. Those between ages of 45 and 54 have the lowest level of confidence across all age groups.
  • Looking at confidence by region, confidence among those in the Northeast rose the least in Q1’14. In fact, the increase was half that of the South and West. However, looking at two-week moving averages, all regions saw similar trends in confidence during the winter, suggesting any impact due to weather was mostly muted.
  • Rural residents continue to be a drag on confidence, despite a strong increase in Q1’14. With a ESI reading of 41, rural resident confidence levels are seven points below suburban and city residents.
  • Confidence rose across all education groups in Q1’14 with higher levels of education correlating with higher levels of consumer confidence. Confidence among those with a graduate or professional degree is 25 percent higher than those who have a high school degree or less.
  • Unlike the employed, confidence among unemployed have not reached levels from a year ago, despite a slightly stronger percentage increase in Q1’14. Confidence among the unemployed increased in Q1’14 due to a strong rise in late February. In the immediate aftermath of the expiration of unemployment insurance benefits, confidence among the unemployed dropped significantly, while confidence among the employed remained elevated.