U.S. Economic Outlook Report: February 2022

Report summary

The omicron variant took its toll on U.S. consumer confidence in January as the unprecedented surge in COVID-19 cases impacted lives, livelihoods and overall perceptions of the economy. While the January jobs report from the BLS is likely to be discouraging, Morning Consult’s high-frequency employment indicators show that the employment situation stabilized or even improved by late January. Financial vulnerability soared in January, with 29.0 percent of American adults unable to pay their bills for a full month using just their savings.

Key Takeaways

  • Morning Consult’s Index of Consumer Sentiment (ICS) fell 1.6 points in January, as the record-breaking number of new cases attributable to the omicron variant finally began to drive confidence lower.
  • Despite the uptick in lost pay, a growing share of out-of work adults sought employment in January, particularly lower-income adults who stand to benefit the most from tight labor markets.
  • Increases in the costs of basic monthly necessities are eating into Americans’ savings, compounded by omicron-driven pay losses in December and January.

About the authors

A headshot photograph of John Leer
John Leer
Chief Economist

John Leer leads Morning Consult’s global economic research, overseeing the company’s economic data collection, validation and analysis. He is an authority on the effects of consumer preferences, expectations and experiences on purchasing patterns, prices and employment.

John continues to advance scholarship in the field of economics, recently partnering with researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland to design a new approach to measuring consumers’ inflation expectations.

This novel approach, now known as the Indirect Consumer Inflation Expectations measure, leverages Morning Consult’s high-frequency survey data to capture unique insights into consumers’ expectations for future inflation.

Prior to Morning Consult, John worked for Promontory Financial Group, offering strategic solutions to financial services firms on matters including credit risk modeling and management, corporate governance, and compliance risk management.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and philosophy with honors from Georgetown University and a master’s degree in economics and management studies (MEMS) from Humboldt University in Berlin. 

His analysis has been cited in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, The Washington Post, The Economist and more.

Follow him on Twitter @JohnCLeer. For speaking opportunities and booking requests, please email [email protected]

A headshot photograph of Kayla Bruun
Kayla Bruun
Senior Economist

Kayla Bruun is a senior economist at decision intelligence company Morning Consult, where she analyzes consumer spending, inflation and household finance trends, leveraging the company’s proprietary high-frequency data.

Prior to joining Morning Consult, Kayla was a key member of the corporate strategy team at telecommunications company SES, where she produced market intelligence and industry analysis of mobility markets. 

Kayla also served as an economist at IHS Markit, where she covered global services industries, provided price forecasts, produced written analyses and served as a subject-matter expert on client-facing consulting projects. 

Kayla earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Emory University and an MBA with a certificate in nonmarket strategy from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.

Follow her on Twitter @KaylaBruun. For speaking opportunities and booking requests, please email [email protected]

A headshot photograph of Jesse Wheeler
Jesse Wheeler
Senior Economist

Jesse Wheeler previously worked at Morning Consult as a senior economist.