HIGH POINT, N.C., Jan. 31, 2023 – Findings from the latest High Point University Poll on the Consumer Sentiment Index show North Carolinians’ opinions about the economy, including that their personal finances remain low. The newest index, based on the January 2023 HPU Poll data, is recorded at 61.2. That number hasn’t changed much since the HPU Poll last reported an index of 60.5 from a September 2022 poll.
“Consumer sentiment in North Carolina has improved slightly but is still low,” said Dr. Peter Summers, associate professor of economics. “The prospect of a recession this year seems to be weighing on households’ near-term outlook. The Federal Reserve’s interest rate increases also seem to be having an impact, as 43% of respondents said that now is a bad time to make a major household purchase. These purchases are often financed over time, and this has become more costly as interest rates have risen.”
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 United States 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 tracks consumer sentiment in North Carolina remaining low.”
Findings for the individual questions show why the overall index fluctuates year to year, but has remained low, reflecting pessimism among consumers.
January 2023 Index Results:
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?Better Off – 18%
Worse Off – 51%
Same/Neither – 29%
Unsure – 2%
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.Better Off – 29%
Worse Off – 31%
About the same – 33%
Unsure – 8%
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?
Good Times – 14%
Bad Times – 34%
Neither – 30%
Good times with qualifications – 8%
Bad times with qualifications – 8%
Unsure – 7%
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?
Widespread unemployment or depression – 31%
Continuous good times – 12%
Neither/Mix of both – 50%
Unsure – 7%
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?
Good time – 16%
Bad time – 43%
Neither – 32%
Unsure – 9%
The most recent HPU Poll of 1,006 respondents was fielded by the High Point University Survey Research Center on Jan. 17 through Jan. 21, as an online survey using a panel of respondents recruited and maintained by Dynata. Dynata sent invitations to its panel of N.C. 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 3.3 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 1.1 (based on the weighting). The data is weighed 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 surveys 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.
You can follow the HPU Poll on Twitter.
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.