WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans' confidence in the economy stalled out last week, with the Gallup Economic Confidence Index dropping slightly to -16 after registering improvements for two straight weeks.
The Economic Confidence Index climbed to -14 two weeks ago, as the U.S. stock market reached record highs, up from -22 in late February/early March as the prospect, and then reality, of federal government sequestration may have been setting in. In early February, weekly confidence reached a five-year high of -8.
Gallup's Economic Confidence Index is based on Americans' ratings of current economic conditions in the United States as well as their assessments of whether the economy is getting better or worse. The sputtering out in economic confidence last week reflected flat or declining views on both of these fronts.
Americans continue to assess current economic conditions more negatively than positively, with 18% saying they are excellent or good and 37% rating them as poor. This equates to a net current conditions score of -19, down from -17 the week prior.
And Americans still are more pessimistic than optimistic about where the economy is headed -- 54% say it is getting worse and 42% say it is getting better, resulting in a net economic outlook score of -12 last week, no better than the -11 recorded the previous week.
Americans' confidence in the economy declined last week, with Gallup's Economic Confidence Index slipping to -16 after improving the prior two weeks. The two-week improvement streak came as the Dow Jones Industrial Average posted 10 straight days of gains; it followed a couple of weeks of losses as the sequestration news unfolded.
Economic confidence historically has been sensitive to a variety of factors affecting the U.S. economy, including the stock market, gas prices, unemployment, and high-level government budget issues. All of these factors are currently in a state of flux and Americans' confidence in the nation's economy is likely to continue to ebb and flow along with them.
Gallup.com reports results from these indexes in daily, weekly, and monthly averages and in Gallup.com stories. Complete trend data are always available to view and export in the following charts:
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Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking March 18-24, 2013, with a random sample of 3,561 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, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cellphones numbers are selected using random digit dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, cellphone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2012 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the July-December 2011 National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the 2010 census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.
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.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.