MORNING CONSULT ECONOMIC INTELLIGENCE

Economic Growth in October Has Come to a Standstill

Updated: October 28, 2020
This chart displays the ICS, a measurement of consumer sentiment. Higher numbers indicate greater confidence.

 

Welcome to Morning Consult’s U.S. consumer confidence dashboard, powered by Economic Intelligence. Every week, this page will update with the latest national data and insights from our economic team. Additionally, state-level data and findings will be updated once a month.

Morning Consult surveys around 6,000 U.S. consumers every day on their views regarding current and future personal financial conditions and business conditions in the country as a whole. The results from those survey interviews are inputted into the Morning Consult Index of Consumer Sentiment (ICS), which rises as consumer confidence increases. In addition to the ICS, our overall measurement for consumer confidence, Morning Consult uses the responses to track consumer sentiment regarding just the current economic conditions (the ICC) and just expectations for future conditions (the ICE).

This is just a small sliver of the economic data we track around the globe every day. Learn more about Economic Intelligence.

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This week's results are based on around 40,000 survey interviews conducted October 14-20, 2020

WEEK AT A GLANCE

This week, US consumer confidence remains practically unchanged from last week and continues the trend of stability seen throughout the month.

Morning Consult economist John Leer pulled out three key insights from the data this week:

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • It’s time to acknowledge the new reality: Economic growth in October in the United States has ground to a standstill. Morning Consult’s daily U.S. Index of Consumer Sentiment (ICS) equaled 92.14 as of Oct. 27, essentially unchanged from the prior week. Morning Consult’s ICS has closely tracked trends in consumer spending since the onset of the pandemic, which means that it tracks roughly 67% of GDP. During good times, slowing economic growth is not as problematic as it is during bad times, when households’ personal finances are already weak. Without additional improvements in the economy, consumption is poised to contract again in the near term.
  • When the Bureau of Economic Analysis releases third-quarter GDP growth on Thursday and September’s real personal consumption expenditures on Friday, commentators are likely to try to read into the data signs of economic optimism. But October was not September, and relying on historical data to forecast the future is dangerous when the economic landscape changes so rapidly.
  • Looking into the near future, the election outcome and the spread of the virus are the two most important factors driving the strength of consumer spending. The election will shape the trajectory of the economy by influencing the size and scope of a second coronavirus stimulus package, and the spread of the virus has consistently exerted downward pressure on consumer confidence and spending. If the recovery were gaining momentum, a strengthening job market would support consumption growth, but Morning Consult’s data shows persistently weak demand at least for the next month. 

 

 

NATIONAL TRENDS

This week, consumers’ expectations for the future ticked up and the evaluation of current conditions ticked down.

Daily U.S. Consumer Confidence Indices

Reading this data: In order to gauge consumer sentiment, Morning Consult asks five questions relating to personal finances and business conditions in the country as a whole. The results from those five questions are then inputted into these three indices: The ICS is the overall measurement based on the results of all five questions; the ICC reflects consumers’ views of their current personal financial conditions and of current buying conditions for large household goods, and the ICE measures consumers’ expectations of their future personal financial conditions and business conditions in the country as a whole.

 

 

STATE-LEVEL TRACKING

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, consumer confidence has shifted dramatically in all 50 states. However, the precise magnitude and nature of those shifts vary in important ways. This map tracks state-by-state consumer sentiment since the beginning of the year, and it will be updated once a month to reflect the latest data.

Monthly Consumer Confidence Tracking By State
Updated: October 28, 2020

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STATE LEVEL TAKEAWAYS

  • Consumer confidence in October decreased across a larger geographic footprint than it did in September, reflecting the ongoing increases in coronavirus cases across the country. For the month to date in October, 15 of the 50 states recorded a decrease in their ICS, three times as many as in September. The largest monthly percentage decreases in the ICS in October were in Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Idaho and Louisiana. With the exception of Louisiana, the number of new coronavirus cases is high and accelerating at some of the fastest paces in the country.
  • Confidence across six critical swing states moderately increased in October. The ICS in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin increased by 1.53% on average over the past month. The increase in Wisconsin is particularly curious since new per capita coronavirus cases are relatively high in that state. In September, the ICS increased by an average of 4.13% across these six states, which says that these consumers in these economies are entering a holding pattern similar to consumers across the country. 
  • A recent analysis of Morning Consult’s ICS among voters who went for President Barack Obama in 2012 and President Donald Trump in 2016 indicates that the economic effects of the pandemic may have lasting political effects. In each of the six swing states Morning Consult tracked — Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — consumer confidence among Obama-Trump voters started significantly higher than consumer confidence among all registered voters, but that gap narrowed during the pandemic. In other words, the economic outlook of Obama-Trump voters in these six states fell by more than it did across all registered voters. 

"THIS IS THE FUTURE"

Moody’s Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi, on Morning Consult Economic Intelligence’s Global Consumer Confidence tracking

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