Consumers are pessimistic, despite a relatively strong economy. What gives? : Planet Money Would you say that you and your family are better off or worse off, financially, than you were a year ago? Do you think in 12 months we'll have good times, financially, or bad? Generally speaking, do you think now is a good time or a bad time to buy a house?

These are the kinds of questions baked into the Consumer Sentiment Index. And while the economy has been humming along surprisingly well lately, sentiment has stayed surprisingly low.

Today on the show: We are really bummed about the economy, despite the fact that unemployment and inflation are down. So, what gives? We talk to a former Fed economist trying to get to the heart of this paradox, and travel to Michigan to check in on the place where they check the vibes of the economy.

Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.

Why are we so bummed about the economy?

Why are we so bummed about the economy?

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A customer shops in a Kroger grocery store on July 15, 2022 in Houston, Texas. Brandon Bell/Getty Images hide caption

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Brandon Bell/Getty Images

A customer shops in a Kroger grocery store on July 15, 2022 in Houston, Texas.

Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Would you say that you and your family are better off or worse off, financially, than you were a year ago? Do you think in 12 months we'll have good times, financially, or bad? Generally speaking, do you think now is a good time or a bad time to buy a house?

These are the kinds of questions baked into the Consumer Sentiment Index. And while the economy has been humming along surprisingly well lately, sentiment has stayed surprisingly low.

Today on the show: We are really bummed about the economy, despite the fact that unemployment and inflation are down. So, what gives? We talk to a former Fed economist trying to get to the heart of this paradox, and travel to Michigan to check in on the place where they check the vibes of the economy.

This episode was hosted by Kenny Malone and Wailin Wong. It was produced by Emma Peaslee. It was fact checked by Sierra Juarez and edited by Molly Messick. It was engineered by Neal Rauch. Alex Goldmark is Planet Money's executive producer.

Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.

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Music: NPR Source Audio - "Summer Shimmer," "Friendly Intentions" and "Tomber En Panne"