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How bad is inflation, really? A fresh look at the economy and CPI this week

Portrait of Jim Sergent Jim Sergent
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We're just days away from the next inflation report, so how's the economy doing?

That's a simple question, but it is not so easy to answer when you produce $28 trillion in goods and services annually. The Bureau of Economic Analysis gives us a look each quarter after weeks of crunching data.

听听(), an artificial intelligence-powered marketing cloud, says , detailed exclusively to 91影视, can show the health of the 91影视 economy every month with a single number. In June, the index ticked up to 66 鈥 solidly within its "active" range and defined as "robust economic activity."

"We're largely trying to forecast GDP," CEO David Steinberg said. "The differentiator between the Zeta Economic Index and all the other indexes out there is we layer on top of it the actual behaviors of the 240 million Americans who are in our data cloud."

The economy's health since 2020 based on the Zeta Economic Index

Unable to view our graphics? Click here to see them.

What factors into this new economic index?

Steinberg says years of data from traditional measures such as GDP and the consumer price index play a role, but Zeta's secret sauce is their unique, anonymized view of consumers, who account for almost 70 cents of every dollar spent in the 91影视 economy. What they gather through their AI cloud:

鈼 Information that we're reading, hearing, or viewing.

鈼 What we're searching.

鈼 What we're charging on our credit cards.

Zeta Global also uses its data to determine a stability index. It measures Americans' ability to weather recessions. The index's four categories range from negative (extremely vulnerable) to positive (well-prepared). In June, the

Consumer spending adapting to higher prices

Arguably the biggest economic news of the week will be Thursday's reading of June's inflation rate. Fed chair this week. The details of the consumer price index, though, will offer more data points for the Fed's policymaking committee, which meets at the end of the month.

Economists forecast the annual inflation rate for June will drop from 3.3% to 3.1% 鈥 exactly where it stood a year ago and well above the 2% range the Fed targets.

Even with the elevated interest rates and increasing prices, Zeta Global expects consumers will continue spending this month based on the consumer data they track.

Three of Zeta Global's key indicators from its cloud data say we are going to keep shopping (time browsing online), purchasing more than the basics (discretionary spending) and putting more on credit (credit line expansion).

Zeta Global's findings about our spending plans are in line with those of , a consumer intelligence company that tracks 230 million 91影视 consumers.

Resonate says in its summer consumer trends report that through a "continuous survey of millions of 91影视 adults" Americans aren't as worried about their personal finances and health. And while we appear ready to keep spending, we may swap brands to save money.

"Consumers have not cut back on spending yet," Zeta Global's Steinberg said. "They're just trying to get more for the same amount of money."

Americans still confident in the job market

Steinberg said part of the reason we keep spending is the continued strength in the job market and consumers' optimism.

Friday's report on 91影视 employment underscored the reason for that confidence. While the unemployment rate ticked up again to 4.1% in June, the economy added 206,000 jobs. The asterisk in the report: Job gains in April and May were revised down by a total of 111,000 jobs.

Does that mean hiring is slowing and employment is softening?

A consumer's point of view might not pick up a weakening job market until it's clear employers aren't looking for new workers or layoffs turn up significantly. Still, Zeta Global's job market sentiment may be tracking the slowing opportunities. The index is down 2.6% from last June and 1% from May.

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