HPU Poll: Consumer Sentiment Remains High in North Carolina

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HIGH POINT, N.C., Nov. 7, 2017 – North Carolinians remain optimistic about major economic indicators such as their personal finances, according to the High Point University Poll’s latest Consumer Sentiment Index.

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

The new index, based on feedback from North Carolinians in late October and early November, remains at 92.3, which is the same as the last index that was taken in February but three points lower than the same time last year.

“Our most recent poll does not indicate a change in how people in North Carolina feel about the economy,” says Brian McDonald, associate director of the HPU Poll and adjunct instructor. “This new poll indicates a status-quo in consumer sentiment as 2017 comes to an end.”

October/November 2017 Index Results:

-Forty percent of North Carolina residents said they are better off financially than they were a year ago, compared to 46 percent of respondents in November 2016.

-Eleven percent of North Carolinians – compared to 10 percent in November 2016 – expressed concern that they would be worse off financially a year from now.

-Forty-two percent of respondents expected good business conditions in the next 12 months. In November 2016, that number was 43 percent.

“The HPU Poll’s Index of Consumer Sentiment has been on an upward trend since September 2013 at 70.4 on a 100 point scale and now appears to be leveling off in the low 90s,” says Dr. Daniel Hall, associate professor of economics and HPU economics department chair. “Around 2013, we were mostly recovered from the Great Recession of 2008 and were expanding, thus consumer outlook was growing as the accompanying employment prospects improved. However as expansion continues, the eventual inflation accompanies it and means that the cost of living becomes the new concern to consumers.”

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?

October/November 2017
Better Off – 40 percent
Worse Off – 22 percent
Same/Neither – 35 percent
Don’t know/Refused – 3 percent

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

October/November 2017
Better Off – 42 percent
Worse Off – 11 percent
About the same – 39 percent
Don’t know/Refused – 8 percent

November 2016
Better Off – 44 percent
Worse Off – 10 percent
About the same – 41 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?

October/November 2017
Good Times – 42 percent
Bad Times – 25 percent
Neither – 14 percent
Good times with qualifications – 3 percent
Bad times with qualifications – 3 percent
Don’t know/Refused – 14 percent

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

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?

October/November 2017
Widespread unemployment or depression – 36 percent
Continuous good times – 38 percent
Neither/Mix of both – 16 percent
Don’t know/Refused – 10 percent

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

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?

October/November 2017
Good time – 61 percent
Bad time – 19 percent
Neither – 7 percent
Don’t know/Refused – 14 percent

November 2016
Good time – 55 percent
Bad time – 22 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 Oct. 27 – Nov. 4, 2017. The responses from a sample of all North Carolina counties came from 351 adults with landline or cellular telephones. The survey has an estimated margin of sampling error of approximately 5.2 percentage points for all adult respondents. The data is weighted toward population estimates for cellular and landline telephone use, age, gender, race, education, and party identification. 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/2017/11/54memoC.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


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

Dr. Martin Kifer, department chair and 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 and an adjunct professor of survey research methods.

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