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Gallup Daily: Consumers Increasingly Worried About Money

Basic consumer confidence also continues to erode

PRINCETON, NJ -- Friday's Gallup Poll Daily tracking update shows consumer confidence continuing to erode and 44% of Americans saying they worried about money yesterday, the highest percentage this year, and up 10 percentage points in just a matter of days.


These results are based on interviews conducted Tuesday through Thursday, in a week that has seen a drumbeat of mostly bad financial and economic news, albeit tempered with a rise in the Dow Jones stock market average of more than 400 points on Thursday. The jump in personal worry about money is potentially significant if it translates into restrained consumer spending, which in turn could deliver still another blow to the struggling U.S. economy.

Meanwhile, Americans have also grown increasingly negative in a more general sense about the state of the U.S. economy as this week has progressed, with 50% rating economic conditions as "poor," up 10 points from just four days ago, and the highest such rating since mid-July (when gas prices had reached new high points).


The percentage of Americans who say the economy is getting worse is now at 86%, up 9 points from four days ago. Ten percent say the economy is getting better.


The "getting worse" percentage is, like the rating of the current economy, as negative as it has been since July. But both of these measures have been even more negative at earlier points this year. The "getting worse" percentage was consistently in the high 80% range for periods of time in the spring and summer, reaching a yearlong high of 90% in mid-July. Similarly, the "poor" percentage has been as high as 52% earlier this summer.

Gallup summarizes the responses to these two questions in a measure that classifies Americans as positive, mixed, or negative about the economy. In Friday's update, 81% are classified as negative, with 5% positive and 13% mixed.


These numbers are approaching, but have not yet exceeded, the most negative percentages recorded so far this year. In mid-July 83% of Americans were negative about the economy, and the percent positive has been at 4% at several points throughout the year.

If the stock market ends Friday with another significant uptick, it may be possible that consumer confidence will stop the hemorrhaging that has characterized it so far this week, but it is also possible, of course, that confidence in the economy will continue to descend to new record lows in the days ahead. -- Frank Newport

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,561 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Sept. 16-18, 2008, as part of Gallup's daily tracking survey. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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