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Americans' Views of Economy Remain Slightly Negative

Americans' Views of Economy Remain Slightly Negative
by Andrew Dugan

Story Highlights

  • Economic Confidence Index unchanged from week before, at -11
  • Republicans' confidence in economy is well below Democrats'
  • Current conditions score stands at 0; economic outlook at -21

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans' assessments of the economy remain steady and more negative than positive. Gallup's U.S. Economic Confidence Index registered -11 last week, in-line with past readings since late July.

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While Americans' confidence in the economy has remained relatively flat for three months, economic data published recently suggest economic growth may have picked up over this time period. GDP grew at a rate of 2.9% in the third quarter, the strongest pace in two years. Furthermore, last week's Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report showed wages growing faster than expected in October and, at 2.8% for the year, the fastest growth since the Great Recession. But for the same month, the economy reportedly added 161,000 jobs, slightly below the 2016 average monthly job growth.

If GDP is now growing at a faster clip than the lackluster speed that has characterized 2016, Americans may not be sensing it yet. Gallup's Economic Confidence Index has generally lingered around the same level throughout the year -- with slightly more Americans pessimistic about the economy than optimistic. Attitudes briefly worsened in the spring and early summer, but bounced back in late July.

Republicans More Pessimistic Than Democrats About Economy

Heading into an election where economic concerns are more at the top of Republicans' minds than Democrats', U.S. adults who lean or identify Republican continue to express far lower levels of confidence in the economy than Democrats. For the week ending Nov. 6, Republicans' confidence in the economy stood at -44, while Democrats' confidence was +27. It is not unusual for partisans siding with the opposite political party of the president in office to view the economy more negatively -- Democrats did so during the George W. Bush presidency.

Views of Current Conditions Brighter Than Economic Outlook

Gallup's U.S. Economic Confidence Index is the average of two components: how Americans rate current economic conditions and whether they feel the economy is improving or getting worse. The index has a theoretical maximum of +100 if all Americans say the economy is doing well and improving, and a theoretical minimum of -100 if all Americans say the economy is doing poorly and getting worse.

Twenty-eight percent of Americans rated the economy as "excellent" or "good" last week, while 28% said it was "poor," resulting in a current conditions index of 0. This is unchanged from the last reading. More broadly, the current conditions index has hovered just below its post-recession high of +3, reached in in January 2015, for much of the past 15 weeks.

By contrast, the economic outlook index -- though it has also been relatively stable for over three months -- remains well below a recent high. For the week ending Nov. 6, it came in at -21, with 37% of Americans saying economic conditions in the country were "getting better," while 58% said they were "getting worse." This is essentially unchanged from the week prior, but is well below the +7 recorded in January 2015.

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Bottom Line

The 2016 presidential election is taking place at a time when economic attitudes are stable, but slightly negative. This marks a departure from highly negative views of the economy before the 2008 election and the gradually improving economic views leading up to 2012.

Moreover, the major political parties hold opposite views about the state of the economy. This could be a consequence of the strong political polarization that has influenced how individuals view a host of issues.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Oct. 31-Nov. 6, 2016, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 3,042 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 60% cellphone respondents and 40% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

Learn more about how the Gallup U.S. Daily works.

Gallup


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