HPU Poll: North Carolina Consumer Sentiment Unchanged

HIGH POINT, N.C., Oct. 10, 2019 – According to the latest High Point University Poll, the Consumer Sentiment Index shows that North Carolinians’ opinions about the economy and their personal finances haven’t changed much in 2019. The newest index, based on Sept./Oct. 2019 HPU Poll data, is recorded at 86.4. That number was 86.2 in Feb. 2019, but had remained in the 90s since Nov. 2016.

chartThe HPU Poll’s measure of consumer sentiment is an index that comprises five separate questions asking respondents about different aspects of how they view the U.S. economy and their own personal finances. The HPU Poll has been tracking consumer sentiment in North Carolina through the Survey Research Center since April 2010.

“The most recent HPU Poll indicates that consumer sentiment in North Carolina hasn’t changed in 2019,” says Brian McDonald, associate director of the HPU Poll and adjunct instructor. “Since 2016, we have recorded consumer sentiment in the 90s and this past February we tracked a decline. While we haven’t recorded a change in 2019, we will continue to track consumer sentiment to see if this trend continues.”

Findings for the individual questions show why the overall index fluctuates year to year, but has remained high, reflecting less pessimism among consumers.

Oct. 2019 Index Results:

– 35% of North Carolina residents said they are better off financially than they were a year ago, compared to 36% of respondents in Feb. 2019.

– 14% of North Carolinians expressed concern they would be worse off financially a year from now.

– 28% of respondents said they expect good business conditions in the next 12 months. In Feb. 2019, that number was 34%.

– 39% of North Carolina residents said now is a good time to make a major household purchase compared to 41% in Feb. 2019.

“Compared with February 2019, there is a reduction in those who definitively expect good times over the next 12 months, but the difference disappears once you include those who say expect good times with some qualifications,” says Dr. Daniel Hall, associate professor and chair of economics. “We are approaching the end of an economic expansion that will not last forever and some investors and consumers are looking for signs of that. However, business cycle dating the lengths of economic expansions have increased.”

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?

chartSept./Oct. 2019
Better Off – 35%
Worse Off – 23%
Same/Neither – 39%
Don’t know/Refused – 3%

(All adult North Carolina resident phone and online sample, surveyed Sept. 27 – Oct. 4, 2019, n = 1009 and credibility interval of +/- 4%)

Feb. 2019
Better Off – 36%
Worse Off – 23%
Same/Neither – 37%
Don’t know/Refused – 3%

(All adult North Carolina resident phone and online sample, surveyed Feb. 18 – 24, 2019, n = 881 and credibility interval of +/- 4.5%)

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.

Sept./Oct. 2019
Better Off – 39%
Worse Off – 14%
About the same – 38%
Don’t know/Refused – 9%

(All adult North Carolina resident phone and online sample, surveyed Sept. 27 – Oct. 4, 2019, n = 1009 and credibility interval of +/- 4%)

Feb. 2019
Better Off – 35%
Worse Off – 14%
About the same – 43%
Don’t know/Refused – 9%

(All adult North Carolina resident phone and online sample, surveyed Feb. 18 – 24, 2019, n = 881 and credibility interval of +/- 4.5%)

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?

Sept./Oct. 2019
Good Times – 28%
Bad Times – 20%
Neither – 27%
Good times with qualifications – 9%
Bad times with qualifications – 6%
Don’t know/Refused – 10%

(All adult North Carolina resident phone and online sample, surveyed Sept. 27 – Oct. 4, 2019, n = 1009 and credibility interval of +/- 4%)

Feb. 2019
Good Times – 34%
Bad Times – 26%
Neither – 24%
Good times with qualifications – 2%
Bad times with qualifications – less than 1%
Don’t know/Refused – 12%

(All adult North Carolina resident phone and online sample, surveyed Feb. 18 – 24, 2019, n = 881 and credibility interval of +/- 4.5%)

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?

Sept./Oct. 2019
Widespread unemployment or depression – 21%
Continuous good times – 25%
Neither/Mix of both – 41%
Don’t know/Refused – 13%

(All adult North Carolina resident phone and online sample, surveyed Sept. 27 – Oct. 4, 2019, n = 1009 and credibility interval of +/- 4%)

Feb. 2019
Widespread unemployment or depression – 22%
Continuous good times – 26%
Neither/Mix of both – 42%
Don’t know/Refused – 10%

(All adult North Carolina resident phone and online sample, surveyed Feb. 18 – 24, 2019, n = 881 and credibility interval of +/- 4.5%)

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?

Sept./Oct. 2019
Good time – 39%
Bad time – 17%
Neither – 30%
Don’t know/Refused – 14%

(All adult North Carolina resident phone and online sample, surveyed Sept. 27 – Oct. 4, 2019, n = 1009 and credibility interval of +/- 4%)

Feb. 2019
Good time – 41%
Bad time – 18%
Neither – 30%
Don’t know/Refused – 11%

(All adult North Carolina resident phone and online sample, surveyed Feb. 18 – 24, 2019, n = 881 and credibility interval of +/- 4.5%)

The most recent HPU Poll was fielded by live interviewers at the High Point University Survey Research Center calling on Sept. 27 – Oct. 4, 2019 and an online survey fielded at the same time. The responses from a sample of all North Carolina counties came from 1009 adults interviewed online (754 respondents) as well as landline or cellular telephones (255 respondents). The Survey Research Center contracted with Dynata, formerly Research Now SSI: https://www.dynata.com/ to acquire these samples, and fielded the online survey using its Qualtrics platform. This is a combined sample of live phone interviews and online interviews. The online sampling is from a panel of respondents, so their participation does not adhere to usual assumptions associated with random selection. Therefore, it is not appropriate to assign a classical margin of sampling error for the results. In this case, the SRC provides a credibility interval of plus or minus 4 percentage points to account for a traditional 95% confidence interval for the estimates (plus or minus 3.1 percentage points) and a design effect of 1.3 (based on the weighting). The data is weighted toward population estimates for age, gender, race/ethnicity, and education level based on U.S. Census numbers for North Carolina. 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 are available at http://www.highpoint.edu/src/files/2019/10/67memoC.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 https://twitter.com/HPUSurveyCenter.

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

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