HPU Poll: North Carolina Consumer Sentiment Continues to Decline

Sep 28th, 2022

HPU Poll: North Carolina Consumer Sentiment Continues to Decline

HIGH POINT, N.C., Sept. 28, 2022 – The Consumer Sentiment Index shows North Carolinians’ opinions about the economy and their personal finances remain low, according to the latest High Point University Poll.

The newest index, based on the September 2022 HPU Poll data, is recorded at 60.5. That number is about 7 points lower than a February 2022 HPU Poll, and almost as low as a September 2011 HPU Poll that tracked it at 59.9.

The 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 tracks how North Carolinians feel about their own finances and the current economic climate,” said Brian McDonald, associate director of the HPU Poll and adjunct instructor. “The most recent HPU Poll tracked consumer sentiment in North Carolina considerably lower than it was in February 2022.”

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

HPU Poll CSI

September 2022 Index Results:

– 49% of North Carolina residents said they are worse off financially than they were a year ago, compared to 38% of respondents in February 2022.

– 30% of North Carolinians believe they will be worse off financially a year from now, compared to 26% of respondents in February 2022.

– 35% of respondents said they expect bad business conditions in the next 12 months. In February 2022, that number was 33%.

– 32% of respondents said that during the next five years or so, the country will have periods of widespread unemployment or depression.

– 44% of North Carolina residents said now is a bad time to make a major household purchase, compared to 39% in February 2022.

“The drop in North Carolinians’ sentiment since February is likely due to the consistent stream of bad results in financial markets,” said Dr. Peter Summers, associate professor of economics. “Speculation that the country may be entering a recession in the near future would also cloud consumers’ outlook about the future. The drop in gasoline prices over the summer doesn’t seem to have had enough of a positive effect to counter these strong negative trends.”

HPU Poll Current Finances

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?

September 2022
Better Off – 18%
Worse Off – 49%
Same/Neither – 30%
Unsure – 2%

(Online interviews with North Carolina residents, surveyed Sept. 14 – Sept. 20, 2022, n = 1041 and credibility interval is +/- 3.2%)

February 2022
Better Off – 24%
Worse Off – 38%
Same/Neither – 36%
Unsure – 2%

(Telephone and online interviews with North Carolina residents, surveyed Feb. 11 – Feb. 24, 2022, n = 848 and credibility interval is +/- 3.6%)

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.

September 2022
Better Off – 28%
Worse Off – 30%
About the same – 33%
Unsure – 9%

(Online interviews with North Carolina residents, surveyed Sept. 14 – Sept. 20, 2022, n = 1041 and credibility interval is +/- 3.2%)

February 2022
Better Off – 32%
Worse Off – 26%
About the same – 35%
Unsure – 8%

(Telephone and online interviews with North Carolina residents, surveyed Feb. 11 – Feb. 24, 2022, n = 848 and credibility interval is +/- 3.6%)

HPU Poll Business Conditions

Business Conditions – All Adults

Now turning to business conditions in the country as a whole, do you think that during the next 12 months we’ll have good times financially, or bad times, or what?

September 2022
Good Times – 13%
Bad Times – 35%
Neither – 27%
Good times with qualifications – 9%
Bad times with qualifications – 8%
Unsure – 7%

(Online interviews with North Carolina residents, surveyed Sept. 14 – Sept. 20, 2022, n = 1041 and credibility interval is +/- 3.2%)

February 2022
Good Times – 19%
Bad Times – 33%
Neither – 27%
Good times with qualifications – 8%
Bad times with qualifications – 7%
Unsure – 7%

(Telephone and online interviews with North Carolina residents, surveyed Feb. 11 – Feb. 24, 2022, n = 848 and credibility interval is +/- 3.6%)

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?

September 2022
Widespread unemployment or depression – 32%
Continuous good times – 11%
Neither/Mix of both – 49%
Unsure – 8%

(Online interviews with North Carolina residents, surveyed Sept. 14 – Sept. 20, 2022, n = 1041 and credibility interval is +/- 3.2%)

February 2022
Widespread unemployment or depression – 34%
Continuous good times – 15%
Neither/Mix of both – 45%
Unsure – 6%

(Telephone and online interviews with North Carolina residents, surveyed Feb. 11 – Feb. 24, 2022, n = 848 and credibility interval is +/- 3.6%)

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?

September 2022
Good time – 18%
Bad time – 44%
Neither – 30%
Unsure – 8%

(Online interviews with North Carolina residents, surveyed Sept. 14 – Sept. 20, 2022, n = 1041 and credibility interval is +/- 3.2%)

February 2022
Good time – 21%
Bad time – 39%
Neither – 33%
Unsure – 8%

(Telephone and online interviews with North Carolina residents, surveyed Feb. 11 – Feb. 24, 2022, n = 848 and credibility interval is +/- 3.6%)

The most recent HPU Poll was fielded by the High Point University Survey Research Center on Sept. 14 through Sept. 20, 2022, as an online survey using a panel of respondents recruited and maintained by Dynata. Dynata sent invitations to its panel of NC respondents and the SRC collected responses on its Qualtrics platform. The SRC did all data analysis. The online sample is from a panel of respondents, and their participation does not adhere to usual assumptions associated with random selection. Therefore, it is not appropriate to assign a classic margin of sampling error for the results. In this case, the SRC provides a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points to account for a traditional 95% confidence interval for the estimates (plus or minus 3.0 percentage points) and a design effect of 1.08 (based on the weighting). The data is weighted toward population estimates for age, gender, race/ethnicity and education 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 errors into the findings of opinion polls.

Further results and methodological details from the most recent survey and past studies can be found at the Survey Research Center website. 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. See more information here.

You can follow the HPU Poll Twitter here.

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.