Americans were more optimistic about their financial situations in January 2024 than they have been at any time since the pandemic began nearly four years ago, according to new data released Monday.
In the January 2024 Survey of Consumer Expectations, released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Center for Microeconomic Data, more Americans expected to be better off a year from now than at any point since early 2020.
In January 2024, 34.1 percent of respondents said that in one year, they expected to be either much better off (5.1 percent) or somewhat better off (29 percent) than they are.
That’s the highest level since February 2020, when 42.9 percent expected to be better off one year out. In March 2020, when the pandemic started taking its toll on the U.S. and global economies, 31.2 percent expected to be better off the following year. In April 2020, that number dropped to 26.6 percent.
In January 2024, 23.6 percent of Americans expected, one year from now, to be either somewhat worse off (18.3 percent) or much worse off (5.3 percent) — the lowest since September 2021.
Similarly, more Americans said in the January survey that they are financially better off now than they were a year ago, and fewer said they were worse off.
In January 2024, 23.8 percent of respondents said they were either much better off (4.2 percent) or somewhat better off (19.6 percent) than they were a year ago. That’s the highest level since October 2021, when 24 percent said they were better off.
The January survey showed 36.3 percent of respondents said they were either much worse off (10 percent) now than they were last year or somewhat worse off (26.3 percent). That’s the lowest since February 2022, when 34.3 percent of respondents said they were worse off.
The numbers are good news for the Biden administration, which has long expressed frustration that consumer sentiment did not reflect the fact that the economy is relatively strong and growing.
As Biden heads into his reelection campaign, however, it remains to be seen whether voters will credit the sitting president with the positive economic outlook. Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president in 2024, is likely to face former President Trump as the GOP primary front-runner, whom voters often say they trust more on issues related to the economy.
The survey is a “nationally representative, internet-based survey of a rotating panel of approximately 1,300 household heads.” Those same individuals participate in the panel for up to 12 months, allowing the survey to track actual changes in the individual participants’ views over time.