Consumers are uncertain about personal finances and the economy
By many measures, the U.S. economy is on an impressive run: a streak of 103 consecutive months of employment growth; over 21 million jobs added since the end of the Great Recession; the unemployment rate at a 50-year low. Still, most consumers remain uninspired by the economy.
When asked in a May 2019 survey to describe the current state of the U.S. economy, a majority of adults (54 percent) gave it ratings of either fair or poor. Only 43 percent say the economy is in excellent or good shape.
The generational differences are stark. Gen Xers are the most bullish, with 54 percent giving the economy ratings of excellent or good. Baby boomers are split down the middle, with equal proportions giving positive and negative ratings.
In contrast, millennials are decidedly negative about the economy. Only 34 percent of millennials describe the economy as excellent or good, while 63 percent give ratings of fair or poor.
When it comes to their personal economies, consumer sentiment isn’t much different. Overall, 46 percent say their personal finances are in either excellent or good condition. Fifty-three percent of adults describe their personal finances as either fair or poor.
Like the economy, Gen Xers are the most positive, with 57 percent giving their finances ratings of excellent or good. Once again, baby boomers are split down the middle. Among millennials, only 37 percent say their personal finances are in either excellent or good condition, while 62 percent gave fair/poor ratings.
It remains to be seen if this uncertainty impacts spending patterns, particularly among millennials.
Read more analysis and commentary from the Association's chief economist.