Inflation outlook for consumers falls from record high, Fed survey shows

A worker stocks items inside a grocery store in San Francisco, California, May 2, 2022.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Consumers grew a little more optimistic about inflation in April, though they still expect to be spending considerably more in the year ahead, a Federal Reserve survey released Monday shows.

Inflation expectations over the next year fell to a median 6.3%, a 0.3 percentage point decrease from record high levels in March, according to data going back to June 2013. On a three-year basis, expectations rose 0.2 percentage point to 3.9%, which itself is 0.3 percentage point off the record.

The data come with 12-month inflation in March running at 8.5%, the highest level since December 1981. April consumer prices are due to be reported on Wednesday.

Responding to the surge in prices, the Fed last week raised benchmark interest rates by half a percentage point, the biggest hike in 22 years and the second increase of the year.

“We have our job to do and we have to bring inflation back down,” Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” in a Monday morning interview.

Americans are still leery about the high cost of living. Household spending is projected to rise 8%, according to the New York Fed survey. That’s a 0.3 percentage point increase from a month ago and another series high.

However, there also was some optimism there, as expectations for gas price increases fell to 5.2%, a 4.4 percentage point drop that came as oil prices edged lower in April. Respondents also grew more secure in their jobs, with just 10.8% expecting to lose their employment over the next 12 months, tied for an all-time low.

Expectations for home prices were unchanged, but the 6% anticipated increase is still higher than the long-term average.