The Economy

U.S. Consumers Expect 2.6% Rise in Inflation

A New York Fed survey finds consumers' inflation expectations for the next three years are at their highest level in five months.
Matthew HellerMay 9, 2016

U.S. consumers’ expectations for inflation edged higher last month, again clearing the target the U.S. Federal Reserve has set as a guide for its monetary policy.

Consumers polled for the New York Fed’s latest Survey of Consumer Expectations on average expect prices to rise 2.6% over the next year, compared to 2.5% in March’s survey. Median inflation expectations over the next three years were 2.8% in April’s survey, up from 2.5% in March and the highest reading in five months.

“The U.S. central bank wants to be confident that inflation is headed higher before raising interest rates for a second time, after its December ‘liftoff’ from near zero,” Reuters said.

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The Fed has set a target of 2% inflation but the New York Fed’s gauge is still close to its lowest levels since it was launched in mid-2013.

After jumping sharply over the past two months to 7.3%, median one-year ahead expectations for gasoline prices dipped slightly to 6.9% but remained well above the series’ average. Expectations for changes in the prices of medical care, college education, and food also rose slightly, while those for rent price changes fell slightly.

As far as income, consumers expect earnings growth to fall from 2.5% to 2.4% over the next year, while the mean perceived probability of losing one’s job increased noticeably from 14.4% in March to 15.8% in April, a level not seen since late 2014.

Median expected household income growth rose to 2.8%, from 2.6% the prior month, returning to levels recorded during the first three quarters of 2015. Median household spending growth expectations rose to 3.5% from 3.4%, still well above the December low of 2.9%.

The survey is conducted for the New York Fed by The Demand Institute, a non-profit organization jointly operated by The Conference Board and Nielsen.