HPU Poll Tracks Highest Consumer Sentiment Since 2010

HPU Poll Logo_vertical

HIGH POINT, N.C., March 4, 2015 – North Carolinians may be restoring their confidence in the economy, according to the High Point University Poll’s latest Consumer Sentiment Index.

Based on the HPU Poll data, the index stands at 85.9 this February. This is more than 10 points higher than the 73.5 index registered a year ago in February 2014.

The index itself comprises five separate questions that each ask respondents about a different aspect of how they view the U.S. economy and their own personal finances. Some findings for individual questions show why the overall index is beginning to climb, reflecting less pessimism among consumers.

February 2015 Index Results: — Forty-seven percent of North Carolina residents said they are better off financially than they were a year ago, compared to 31 percent of respondents in February 2014.

— Thirteen percent of North Carolinians – compared to 14 percent in February 2014 – expressed concern that they would be worse off financially a year from now. In November 2014, 17 percent thought they would be worse off.

— Thirty-eight percent of respondents expect good business conditions in the next 12 months. In November 2014 that number was 35 percent, and in February 2014 that number was 26 percent. This month’s reading is the highest observed so far, since tracking this data in 2010.

“As we continue to track consumer sentiment in North Carolina, it is at its highest since first collecting this data in 2010,” says Brian McDonald, assistant director of the HPU Poll. “People in North Carolina are continuing to be more confident about current and future economic conditions, and we will continue to watch closely to see if there is a longer-term positive trend in how people feel.”

“The latest HPU poll shows that North Carolinians are feeling the effects of the strengthening economy,” says Dr. Peter Summers, assistant professor of economics. “Forty-seven percent of those surveyed said that they were better off financially than a year ago. This result may reflect the fall in the price of gasoline over the past few months.”

Current Finances – All Adults

We are interested in how people are getting along financially these days. Would you say that you (and your family living there) are better off or worse off financially than you were a year ago?

February 2015

Better Off – 47 percent

Worse Off – 27 percent

Same/Neither – 25 percent

Don’t know/Refused – 1 percent

November 2014

Better Off – 39 percent

Worse Off – 32 percent

Same/Neither – 28 percent

Don’t know/Refused – 1 percent

February 2014

Better Off – 31 percent

Worse Off – 41 percent

Same/Neither – 27 percent

Don’t know/Refused – 1 percent

September 2013

Better Off – 35 percent

Worse Off – 41 percent

Same/Neither – 24 percent

Don’t know/Refused – 1 percent

September 2012

Better Off – 31 percent

Worse Off – 42 percent

Same/Neither – 26 percent

Don’t know/Refused – 1 percent

Future Finances – All Adults

Now looking ahead, do you think that a year from now you (and your family living there) will be better off financially, or worse off, or just about the same as now?

February 2015

Better Off – 31 percent

Worse Off – 13 percent

About the same – 52 percent

Don’t know/Refused – 3 percent

November 2014

Better Off – 26 percent

Worse Off – 17 percent

About the same – 52 percent

Don’t know/Refused – 5 percent

February 2014

Better Off – 28 percent

Worse Off – 14 percent

About the same – 53 percent

Don’t know/Refused – 5 percent

September 2013

Better Off – 27 percent

Worse Off – 21 percent

About the same – 49 percent

Don’t know/Refused – 3 percent

September 2012

Better Off – 27 percent

Worse Off – 9 percent

About the same – 42 percent

Don’t know/Refused – 12 percent

Business Conditions – All Adults

Now turning to business conditions in the country as a whole, do you think that during the next twelve months we’ll have good times financially, or bad times, or what?

February 2015

Good Times – 38 percent

Bad Times – 31 percent

Neither – 15 percent

Good times with qualifications – 5 percent

Bad times with qualifications – 4 percent

Don’t know/Refused – 8 percent

November 2014

Good Times – 35 percent

Bad Times – 31 percent

Neither – 15 percent

Good times with qualifications – 7 percent

Bad times with qualifications – 4 percent

Don’t know/Refused – 9 percent

February 2014

Good Times – 26 percent

Bad Times – 36 percent

Neither – 19 percent

Good times with qualifications – 8 percent

Bad times with qualifications – 3 percent

Don’t know/Refused – 9 percent

September 2013

Good Times – 23 percent

Bad Times – 39 percent

Neither – 20 percent

Good times with qualifications – 6 percent

Bad times with qualifications – 4 percent

Don’t know/Refused – 7 percent

September 2012

Good Times – 31 percent

Bad Times – 24 percent

Neither – 17 percent

Good times with qualifications – 13 percent

Bad times with qualifications – 2 percent

Don’t know/Refused – 13 percent

Country Future – All Adults

Looking ahead, which would you say is more likely, that in the country as a whole we’ll have continuous good times during the next five years or so, or that we have periods of widespread unemployment or depression, or what?

February 2015

Widespread unemployment or depression – 45 percent

Continuous good times – 27 percent

Neither/Mix of both – 19 percent

Don’t know/Refused – 10 percent

November 2014

Widespread unemployment or depression – 43 percent

Continuous good times – 29 percent

Neither/Mix of both – 20 percent

Don’t know/Refused – 9 percent

February 2014

Widespread unemployment or depression – 52 percent

Continuous good times – 25 percent

Neither/Mix of both – 17 percent

Don’t know/Refused – 6 percent

September 2013

Widespread unemployment or depression – 54 percent

Continuous good times – 22 percent

Neither/Mix of both – 20 percent

Don’t know/Refused – 5 percent

September 2012

Widespread unemployment or depression – 32 percent

Continuous good times – 38 percent

Neither/Mix of both – 15 percent

Don’t know/Refused – 15 percent

Major Purchases – All Adults

About the big things people buy for their homes, such as furniture, a refrigerator, stove, television and things like that. Generally speaking, do you think now is a good time or bad time for people to buy major household items?

February 2015

Good time – 60 percent

Bad time – 20 percent

Neither – 12 percent

Don’t know/Refused – 8 percent

November 2014

Good time – 49 percent

Bad time – 28 percent

Neither – 12 percent

Don’t know/Refused – 10 percent

February 2014

Good time – 47 percent

Bad time – 31 percent

Neither – 13 percent

Don’t know/Refused – 9 percent

September 2013

Good time – 45 percent

Bad time – 34 percent

Neither – 12 percent

Don’t know/Refused – 9 percent

September 2012

Good time – 46 percent

Bad time – 36 percent

Neither – 12 percent

Don’t know/Refused – 6 percent

The index models its questions on the national Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers (http://www.sca.isr.umich.edu/). The HPU Poll plans to field the questions at least once per semester in order to gauge consumer feelings on economic conditions. The High Point University Phillips School of Business and directors of the HPU Poll consulted with the directors of the Surveys of Consumers and other state survey organizations that calculate similar state-wide indexes before it first asked the questions in 2010.

The most recent HPU Poll was fielded by live interviewers at the High Point University Survey Research Center calling on Feb. 21-26, 2015. The responses from a sample of all North Carolina counties came from 513 adults with landline or cellular telephones. The Survey Research Center contracted with Survey Sampling International to acquire this sample. The survey has an estimated margin of sampling error of approximately 4.3 percentage points for all adult respondents. The data are weighted toward population estimates for cellular and landline telephone use, age, gender and race. In addition to sampling error, factors such as question wording and other methodological choices in conducting survey research can introduce additional error into the findings of opinion polls. Details from this survey can be found at http://www.highpoint.edu/src/files/2015/03/36memoC.pdf.

Further results and methodological details from the most recent survey and past studies can be found at the Survey Research Center website at http://www.highpoint.edu/src/. The materials online include past press releases as well as memos summarizing the findings (including approval ratings) for each poll since 2010.

The HPU Poll reports methodological details in accordance with the standards set out by AAPOR’s Transparency Initiative, and the HPU Survey Research Center is a Charter Member of the Initiative. For more information, see http://transparency.aapor.org/index.php/transparency.

You can follow the HPU Poll on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HPUSurveyCenter.

Dr. Martin Kifer, assistant professor of political science, serves as the director of the HPU Poll, and Brian McDonald serves as the assistant director of the HPU Poll.

Share Button