In a week of downbeat economic news, culminating in the release Friday of the government’s less-than-forecast employment report, there from Gallup comes a more heartening survey that finds Americans say they have been spending more in recent months.
Fifty-six percent of Americans now say they are spending either more than usual or the same amount, compared with 2009 and 2010, when at least half said they were spending less. Twenty-nine percent said they had been spending more money, up from 17 percent who answered the same in February 2010, the last time Gallup posed the question. Meanwhile, fewer Americans (44 percent) said they have been spending less.
Of the 29 percent, 12 percent said this is a new normal for them, while 17 percent said it is temporary. Most Americans who said they are spending less than usual describe that as a new, normal pattern for them than as a temporary change, which is consistent with what Americans were self-reporting in 2009 and 2010.
The Gallup poll also found that the majority of Americans, apart from their views of their actual spending behavior, say they enjoy saving money more than spending it. The percentage of Americans who professed this savings mentality increased in 2009 in the depths of the economic downturn and has remained elevated since.
A separate Gallup poll released Friday finds that U.S. consumers’ self-reported daily spending last month averaged $73, on par with March’s $74, but one of the highest estimates Gallup has found in more than three years.
The survey, based on interviews with more than 13,000 Americans, gives an estimate of discretionary spending. For the second time since 2009, and the first since October-December 2011m daily spending has exceeded $70 in consecutive months.
As Gallup does not ask respondents to specify on what they are spending their money, it is unclear whether the higher March and April estimates reflect higher gas prices, or if they are tied to warmer weather or income tax refunds, Gallup said.
Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of the economy. Gallup notes that in each year the polling organization has tracked spending, its May estimates have exceeded those from April.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.