U.S. consumers see near-term inflation rising at twice pace of wage gains, survey shows

FILE PHOTO: The Federal Reserve building is pictured in Washington, DC, U.S., August 22, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie/File Photo

By Jonnelle Marte

(Reuters) – U.S. consumers’ short-term inflation expectations pushed higher in November and expectations for future earnings growth dropped, suggesting they expect price increases to outpace wage gains at an even faster rate in the near term, according to a survey released on Monday by the New York Federal Reserve.

Prices for food and other goods are rising at the fastest pace since 1982, according to data released by the Labor Department last week. That higher inflation is cementing expectations the Fed will raise interest rates next year.

The price increases are also eroding wage gains, and the survey suggests consumers expect that situation to worsen in the near term. While near-term inflation expectations rose, year-ahead earnings expectations declined in November.

Consumers said they expect inflation to reach a median of 6.0% in one year, up from an expectation of 5.7% in October. Expectations for year-ahead earnings growth dropped to 2.8% in November from 3.0% in the previous month.

That would leave inflation growing 3.2 percentage points faster than earnings in one year, the widest gap since the survey launched in 2013.

Median expectations for what inflation could be in three years, however, dropped to 4.0% from 4.2%, the first decline since June and only the second drop since October 2020. And uncertainty over what future inflation could look like also rose to new highs for the survey.

Expectations for future home price growth declined slightly but consumers are still expecting more robust growth than they did before the coronavirus pandemic. Consumers said they expect home prices to rise by a median of 5% in one year, down from 5.6% in October but well above the 3.1% expected in February 2020.

The monthly survey of consumer expectations is based on a rotating panel of approximately 1,300 households.

(Reporting by Jonnelle Marte; Editing by Paul Simao)

 

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