The Roanoke College Poll: Virginia Consumer Sentiment and Inflation Expectations Report

Consumer Optimism Continues Upward Trend, Low Income Households Struggle

Aug 20, 2013, 12:43 ET from Roanoke College

SALEM, Va., Aug. 20, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Roanoke College Poll interviewed 604 Virginians about their financial situation, general business conditions, their inclination for purchasing durable goods, and their thoughts on prices in the near- and long-term.

The Virginia Index of Consumer Sentiment (VAICS) rose to 85.1 in August, a 5 percent increase since the second quarter of 2013 and more than a 13 percent rise for the year. This marks the highest sentiment value since November 2011, the first time the measure was reported. The preliminary national August value is 80.0, a retreat from its upward trend. August marks the first time since November 2012 that Virginia sentiment exceeds that of the U.S.

Sentiment about the future economy and household finances grew, albeit at a slower pace from earlier in the year. The Virginia Index of Consumer Expectations (VAICE) increased 5 percent since the second quarter to 82.6. The preliminary national measure of expectations is 72.9. More than 36 percent of those surveyed in Virginia believe their finances will improve over the year, and more than 41 percent expect improving business conditions. Thirty-three percent of Virginians believe that the next five years will be a time of prosperity, while 37 percent anticipate that it will be a period of economic recession.

Virginians also report improved household finances and business conditions since a year ago. The Virginia Index of Current Conditions (VAICC) rose 6 percent to 88.9. The nation is moderately more positive on the current conditions as the University of Michigan reports a preliminary current conditions value of 91.0, a 6.5 point drop since May. Thirty-five percent of Virginians report their household finances are better now than a year ago; close to half of households express that now is a good time to buy large durable goods.

Sentiment varies dramatically across income levels. Low-income households (<$20,000) are significantly more pessimistic about their finances and the economy. The VAICC fell by 12 percent for this group since May suggesting that these households are feeling the brunt of the struggling labor market. Middle ($25,000-$75,000) and high (>$75,000) income households are considerably more favorable about the economy, particularly the current conditions.

Full results and information available at:

SOURCE Roanoke College