Preliminary Results for December 2019
Dec Nov Dec M-M Y-Y
2019 2019 2018 Change Change
Index of Consumer Sentiment 99.2 96.8 98.3 +2.5% +0.9%
Current Economic Conditions 115.2 111.6 116.1 +3.2% -0.8%
Index of Consumer Expectations 88.9 87.3 87.0 +1.8% +2.2%
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Next data release: Friday, December 20, 2019 for Final December data at 10am ET
Surveys of Consumers chief economist, Richard Curtin
Consumer sentiment rose to the upper end of the favorable range it has traveled since the start of 2017. The Sentiment Index has averaged 97.0 in the past three years, the highest sustained level since the all-time record in the Clinton administration. Nearly all of the early December gain was among upper income households, who also reported near record gains in household wealth, largely due to increased stock prices. Indeed, among households with incomes in the top third of the distribution, their overall assessment of their current finances was the third highest in the past twenty years. These gains were aided by declining inflation expectations, with long term inflation expectations returning to an all-time low.

While impeachment has dominated the media, virtually no consumer spontaneously mentioned impeachment in response to any question in early December--just 1%. Nonetheless, the data indicate the strong impact of partisanship on economic expectations, which has widened in the past few months. Moreover, the gap has grown considerably in the past decade. The average gap between Democrats and Republicans was 18.7 points in the Obama administration and 41.6 points since Trump took office. Importantly, the views of Independents closely track the overall Sentiment Index, with a mean of 96.6 versus 97.0 for all consumers (see the chart). While the implications of the economic expectations of Democrats and Republicans are clearly exaggerated, the Independents, who represent the largest group and are less susceptible to maintaining partisan views, hold very favorable expectations, indicating the continuation of the expansion based on consumer spending.