Michigan Consumer Sentiment: October Preliminary Slips

The University of Michigan Preliminary Consumer Sentiment for October came in at 87.9, down from the September Final reading and its lowest since September of last year. Investing.com had forecast 91.9.

Surveys of Consumers chief economist, Richard Curtin, makes the following comments:

The Sentiment Index slipped in early October to its lowest level since last September and the second lowest level in the past two years. The early October loss was concentrated among households with incomes below $75,000, whose Index fell to its lowest level since August of 2014. In contrast, confidence among upper income households remained unchanged in early October from last month, and more importantly, at a level that was nearly identical to its average in the prior twenty-four months (98.3 vs. 98.2). Perhaps the most concerning figure was a decline in the Expectations Index, which fell to its lowest level in the past two years, again mainly due to declines among households with incomes below $75,000. It is likely that the uncertainty surrounding the presidential election had a negative impact, especially among lower income consumers, and without that added uncertainty, the confidence measures may not have weakened. Prospects for renewed gains, other than a relief rally following the election results, would require somewhat larger wage increases and continued job growth as well as the maintenance of low inflation. Overall, real personal consumption can be expected to increase by 2.5% through mid 2017. [More...]

See the chart below for a long-term perspective on this widely watched indicator. Recessions and real GDP are included to help us evaluate the correlation between the Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index and the broader economy.

Michigan Consumer Sentiment

To put today's report into the larger historical context since its beginning in 1978, consumer sentiment is 2.9 percent above the average reading (arithmetic mean) and 4.1 percent above the geometric mean. The current index level is at the 47th percentile of the 466 monthly data points in this series.

The Michigan average since its inception is 85.4. During non-recessionary years the average is 87.6. The average during the five recessions is 69.3. So the latest sentiment number puts us 18.6 points above the average recession mindset and 0.3 points above the non-recession average.