Consumer Sentiment in 2018 Marked Best Year Since 2000

Ann Arbor, MI, December 21, 2018-Consumer sentiment for December rose 0.8% to 98.3, from November’s 97.5 rate, according to final results from the University of Michigan Survey of Consumers. 

This represents a 2.5 % change year over year.

“Consumer confidence remained in December at the same record favorable levels as it has throughout the year,” says Survey of Consumers chief economist, Richard Curtin. “The Sentiment Index averaged 98.4 in 2018, the best year since 107.6 in 2000. Over the past half century, sentiment was higher in only two other time periods: 1964-65 and 1997-2000. These periods correspond to the two longest prior expansions since the mid 1800s. If the current expansion lasts past mid-2019, as is likely based on current data, it will become the longest expansion ever recorded.

“While the plunge in stock prices has recently garnered the most attention in the national press, consumers have focused more on their concerns about income and job prospects. Consumers reported more negative than positive news about job prospects for the first time in two years, with the shift widespread across socioeconomic subgroups. When asked about prospects for the national unemployment rate, 30% expected increases, up from last month's 22% and the highest percentage in two years. Importantly, this still meant that 70% anticipated no increase in unemployment in the year ahead. Surprisingly, even in the last week of the survey, falling stock prices were reported by just 12% as a primary concern about recent economic developments. This may reflect their initial dismissal as another indication of the heightened volatility of stock prices, and not signal an emerging downtrend. While next month's data may reflect increased concerns, it has been news of changing job and income prospects that have been of the greatest concern to consumers.”