• Pure Speculation

Americans Are Really Scared About Their Economic Future

Updated: May 13, 2020

A third of Americans expect their households' finances to be worse a year from now.


After weeks cooped up at home or working in essential jobs that expose them to the coronavirus, people in the United States are experiencing record levels of anxiety about the future.

Released Monday, the New York Federal Reserve Bank's April Survey of Consumer Expectations found that consumers — especially those earning low incomes — are expecting their lives to get grim:

“The perceived probability of losing one’s job reached a new series high for the second consecutive month. Expected earnings, income, and spending growth each reached series lows.”

Notably, 31.6% of respondents expected their households to be worse financially a year from now, and 21.9% expected their household income would decrease over the next year.


Each month for seven years, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has asked people how much they expect their income to rise or fall over the next year. In this month's survey, people said they thought their earnings would increase by only 1.8% over the coming year — the lowest number ever recorded in the series. The outlook was best among those who earn over $100,000 and worst among those who earn less than $50,000.


The average person thought there was a 20.9% chance they would lose their job in the next 12 months, another survey record. Those who earned less than $50,000 had a worse outlook, saying there was a 25% chance they will lose their job. And 47% of people said they would be able to find a job within three months if they lost their current job. Last month, that number was 53%; the decline is the largest month-to-month drop recorded by the survey.


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