Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, consumer confidence has shifted dramatically in all 50 states. However, the precise magnitude and nature of those shifts varies in important ways, and those nuances carry vast implications for policymakers, businesses, and other leaders as they seek to understand the unfolding crisis and respond effectively. This report, based on Morning Consult Economic Intelligence data, tracks state-by-state consumer sentiment since the beginning of the year, and will be updated twice a month to reflect the latest data.
How we measure consumer confidence: Each day, Morning Consult surveys over 6,000 U.S. consumers on their views regarding current and future personal financial conditions and business conditions in the country as a whole. The results from those survey interviews are inputted into the Morning Consult Index of Consumer Sentiment (ICS), with higher numbers indicating higher consumer confidence. For context, the ICS at a national level was 83.6 as of May 15. A full methodology is available at the bottom of the page.
Heat Map: How Consumer Confidence Has Shifted
Use the slider to track how consumer confidence has shifted.
Takeaways From The Latest Data
1. Despite a recent stabilization and rebound, consumers across all states remain less confident than in early March: Consumer confidence across almost every state has returned to where it was 30 days ago with only a few exceptions. South Dakota, Nebraska, Vermont and North Carolina are more than 4 points higher than they were a month ago, whereas Alaska is the only state more than 4 points below its mid-April value. However, consumers across all 50 states remain much less confident than they were in early March, before President Donald Trump declared COVID-19 a national emergency on March 13.
2. Do consumers care more about national or state-level COVID-19 developments? The relationship between state-level consumer confidence and the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic in a given state is not ex ante obvious. Based on prior cross-country analysis, we know that U.S. consumer confidence is more closely correlated with the number of confirmed cases than with the number of COVID-19-induced deaths. Thus, if consumers primarily care about the severity of the outbreak in their state, then changes in state-level consumer confidence should be more highly negatively correlated with the number of confirmed cases in that state than in the country as a whole. Alternatively, consumers may view the coronavirus as a national problem and as a threat to the national economy. If so, then changes in state-level consumer confidence should be more highly negatively correlated with the number of confirmed cases in the country as a whole.
3. Consumers’ views of the economy evolve more closely with nationwide COVID-19 developments. Consumer confidence across the country is more strongly correlated with the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country as a whole rather than in one particular state.
a. Since Jan. 1, 2020, consumer confidence across all 50 states is negatively correlated with the number of confirmed cases in that particular state as well as the number of confirmed cases in the country as a whole. However, the average correlation is higher for the country as a whole than it is for any particular state (minus 0.90 vs. minus 0.87).
b. Consumer confidence across most states (31 out of 50) exhibits a higher correlation with the number of confirmed cases in the country compared to the number of confirmed cases in the state of residence.
c. Consumer confidence in some states is weakly correlated with the number of confirmed cases in that state, but the same is not true of the number of confirmed cases in the country as a whole. The weakest correlation with national numbers is in Nebraska (minus 0.84). In Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota and Nebraska, consumer confidence is only moderately negatively correlated (i.e., less than minus 0.70) with the number of confirmed cases in that state.
4. Severity of an outbreak in a given state sometimes explains why consumers care more about state-level COVID data, but not always. The severity of the outbreak in a given state does not appear to be the single determinant of whether or not consumers are influenced more by the number of cases in their own particular state versus in the country as a whole. For example, New York has the highest number of confirmed cases in absolute and per capita terms, and consumer confidence in New York is more strongly negatively correlated with the number of cases in New York than in the country (minus 0.95 vs minus 0.91). Vermont, on the other hand, has reported relatively few confirmed cases, but consumers there are also more concerned about the outbreak in the state than they are in the country (minus 0.96 vs. minus 0.87).
5. Geographic isolation influences consumers’ prioritization of COVID data. Geographic isolation may help explain why some consumers in some states care more about developments in their state than in the country as a whole. Vermont is relatively isolated from the rest of the country. The same is true of Alaska and Hawaii, where consumer confidence data shows consumers there also appear to be more concerned with developments in their particular state than in the country as a whole.
6. The fall in confidence didn’t start with statewide shutdowns, and reopenings haven’t provided a boost. While the state-level shutdowns may have exacerbated the fall in confidence in late March, consumers had been already growing less optimistic about the economy. Consumer confidence across all 50 states began to decrease by March 19, before any of the states issued stay-at-home orders. Similarly, consumer confidence stabilized across most states in mid-April before the first states began reopening their economies.
Morning Consult Economic Intelligence: Global Consumer Confidence interviews more than 11,000 adults per day across twelve countries. In the United States, more than 6,000 daily interviews are conducted. The daily state-level data uses a 30-day rolling average and the data is weighted to age, gender, education, and race/ethnicity, along with marital status, population density, home ownership, a race by education interaction, and a gender by education interaction.
Survey respondents answer the following five questions:
1) Personal Finances – Current Conditions: We are interested in how people are getting along financially these days. Would you say that you (and your family living there) are better off or worse off financially than you were a year ago?
2) Personal Finances – 12-Month Expectations: Now looking ahead — do you think that a year from now you (and your family living there) will be better off financially, or worse off, or just about the same as now?
3) Business Conditions – 12-Month Expectations: Now turning to business conditions in the country as a whole — do you think that during the next twelve months we’ll have good times financially, or bad times, or what?
4) Business Conditions – 5-Year Expectations: Looking ahead, which would you say is more likely — that in the country as a whole we’ll have continuous good times during the next 5 years or so, or that we will have periods of widespread unemployment or depression, or what?
5) Current Buying Conditions: Thinking about the big things people buy for their homes — such as furniture, a refrigerator, stove, television, and things like that. Generally speaking, do you think now is a good or bad time for people to buy major household items?
The Index of Consumer Sentiment (ICS) is a simple average of the net scores of the five individual questions. For a given question, the net score equals the percentage of weighted positive values minus the percentage of weighted negative values plus 100.