HPU Poll: North Carolinians’ Consumer Sentiment Highest Since 2010 Tracking Began

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hpu-poll-consumer-sentiment-over-time-nov-2016HIGH POINT, N.C., Nov. 23, 2016 – According to HPU Poll’s Consumer Sentiment Index, North Carolinians remain confident about the economy, including their personal finances and future business conditions.

The index, based on new November HPU Poll data, rises to 95.3. Up from 89.7 last February, this is 15 points higher than the 80.0 index registered two years ago in November 2014 and over 20 points higher when the HPU Poll first began tracking consumer sentiment in 2010.

The HPU Poll’s measure of consumer sentiment is an index that comprises five separate questions that each ask respondents about 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.

“Our first post-election poll continues to find a positive trend in how people in North Carolina feel about the economy,” says Brian McDonald, associate director of the HPU Poll and adjunct professor. “This poll indicates the most optimistic consumer sentiment index in over five years.”

November 2016 Index Results:
-Forty-six percent of North Carolina residents said they are better off financially than they were a year ago, compared to 39 percent of respondents in November 2014.

-Ten percent of North Carolinians – compared to 17 percent in November 2014 – expressed concern that they would be worse off financially a year from now.

-Forty-three percent of respondents expected good business conditions in the next 12 months. In November 2014 that number was 35 percent.

“Recent signs of strength in the national, state and local economies seems to be reflected in consumers’ attitudes. Over the last year, North Carolina’s unemployment rate has fallen from 5.6 to 4.9 percent, and the Greensboro-High Point metro area saw a similar drop,” said Dr. Peter Summers, assistant professor of economics at HPU. “At the same time, the number of employed people in the state increased by 85,000. Metro area employment grew by 5,800, or 1.6 percent, from September last year. The strengthening job market is likely a major factor in the large increase in the Consumer Sentiment Index since February. What’s more, households say they expect the good news to continue, both for their own financial situation and for the country as a whole. On the whole, this is a very positive result.”

Current Finances – All Adultshpu-poll-current-finances-nov-2016

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?

November 2016
Better Off – 46 percent
Worse Off – 22 percent
Same/Neither – 30 percent
Don’t know/Refused – 3 percent

November 2014
Better Off – 39 percent
Worse Off – 32 percent
Same/Neither – 28 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.

November 2016
Better Off – 44 percent
Worse Off – 10 percent
About the same – 41 percent
Don’t know/Refused – 5 percent

November 2014
Better Off – 26 percent
Worse Off – 17 percent
About the same – 52 percent
Don’t know/Refused – 5 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?

November 2016
Good Times – 43 percent
Bad Times – 20 percent
Neither – 18 percent
Good times with qualifications – 8 percent
Bad times with qualifications – 3 percent
Don’t know/Refused – 9 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

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?

November 2016
Widespread unemployment or depression – 29 percent
Continuous good times – 45 percent
Neither/Mix of both – 19 percent
Don’t know/Refused – 7 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

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?

November 2016
Good time – 55 percent
Bad time – 22 percent
Neither – 12 percent
Don’t know/Refused – 10 percent

November 2014
Good time – 49 percent
Bad time – 28 percent
Neither – 12 percent
Don’t know/Refused – 10 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 Nov. 12-17, 2016. The responses from a sample of all North Carolina counties came from 481 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 4.5 percentage points for all adult respondents. That margin of error is 4.8 percentage points for the sample of respondents who said they voted on Nov. 8, 2016. The data is 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 are available at http://www.highpoint.edu/src/files/2016/11/49memoC.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, associate professor of political science, serves as the director of the HPU Poll, and Brian McDonald serves as the associate director of the HPU Poll.

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