Fears over access to credit hit highest level in more than a decade, New York Fed survey shows


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American consumers are worried about access to credit amid persistently higher interest rates and tighter standards at banks, according to a New York Federal Reserve survey released Monday.

Respondents indicating that the ability to get loans, credit cards and mortgages is harder now than it was a year ago rose to nearly 60%, the highest level in a data series that goes back to June 2013. The results were part of the New York Fed’s Survey of Consumer Expectations for August.

Fears of credit access have been rising steadily since early 2022, around the same time that the Fed began raising interest rates. Since March of last year, the central bank has hiked its key borrowing rate 11 times totaling 5.25 percentage points as it seeks to tame inflation.

While the Fed worries over higher prices, the inflation outlook was mixed.

Expectations for inflation one year and five years out rose just 0.1 percentage point on the month, taking them respectively to 3.6% and 3%. The three-year outlook nudged down 0.1 point to 2.8%. The Fed targets inflation at 2%.

However, the outlook was mostly different on commodity inflation.

The survey showed that respondents’ expectations for gas prices rose 0.4 percentage point to 4.9%, 0.8 point for medical care to 9.2%, 0.1 point for food to 5.3%, and 0.2 point apiece for college education and rent, to 8.2% and 9.2%, respectively.

Worries also are rising about employment: The survey showed that the mean expectation of losing one’s job in the next year rose by 2 percentage points to 13.8%, the highest since April 2021. That comes with an unemployment rate of just 3.8%, or 0.1 percentage point above its year-ago level.