About the Survey

The Surveys of Consumers has been conducted by the Survey Research Center at the University of Michigan since 1946.  Founded by George Katona, the surveys have been under the direction of Richard Curtin since 1976.  The Surveys of Consumers pioneered the development of measures of consumer confidence, and remains the pacesetter in the use of the data for understanding the important influence of consumer spending and saving decisions on the course of the national economy.

The surveys have proven to be an accurate indicator of the future of the national economy. The data is widely used by a broad range of business firms, financial institutions, and federal agencies.  The Index of Consumer Expectations is an official component of the Index of Leading Indicators developed by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Each month, 500 individuals are randomly selected from the contiguous United States (48 states plus the District of Columbia) to participate in the Surveys of Consumers. In order for the results to accurately represent the opinions of the population of the United States, it is important that each person selected participates. The questions asked cover three broad areas of consumer confidence: personal finances, business conditions, and future buying plans.

The importance of consumer confidence in shaping the course of the economy has been recognized in many countries. Other countries that now regularly monitor consumer sentiment through studies patterned after this survey include: Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Taiwan.