The HPS-CivicScience Economic Sentiment Index (“ESI”) is a “living” index that measures U.S. adults’ expectations for the economy going forward, as well as their feelings about current conditions for major purchases. The primary goal of the Index is to accurately measure movements in overall national economic sentiment and to provide a more sophisticated alternative to existing economic sentiment indices. Unlike other prominent indices that release consumer sentiment estimates infrequently, the HPS-CivicScience Index is updated in real-time as responses are collected continuously every hour, every day. Large-scale cross-tabulation of survey responses and consumer attributes enable more granular analyses than are currently possible through prevailing measures.
Over the past two weeks, economic sentiment slumped to its lowest reading since April 2020, with the HPS-CivicScience Economic Sentiment Index (ESI) declining 2.3 points to 42.9. Overall confidence in the U.S. economy sank dramatically, driving the decline along with record-low confidence in the housing market and near record-low confidence in making a major purchase.
After a slight nudge upward in the last reading, economic sentiment returned to its downward summer trend as the Delta variant surged around the country. Confidence in the U.S. economy plummeted 6.1 points to 40.5, the lowest reading since October 2019. Housing market confidence slid 0.7 points to a record low of 28.3, as home prices continued to soar. As inflation continues to pick up, consumers are quickly losing confidence about making a major purchase, with confidence falling 3.8 points to the second-lowest reading in ESI history, 32.5. Despite a strong July jobs report, labor market sentiment also fell, dropping 2.1 points to 56.5. The only indicator to rise was personal finances, increasing 1.4 points to 57.0.
The three-day moving average began on August 4 at 42.7 and oscillated for the two-week period, reaching its high of 44.9 on August 9 and closing at 44.1 on August 17.