PRINCETON, NJ -- After nearly reaching positive territory in June, Gallup's Economic Confidence Index descended to -12 last week, the lowest reading since late April. However, confidence remains higher than the -22 reading from early March -- the low point this year -- recorded as the public reacted to Congress' failure to avert budget sequestration.
Except for that brief sequestration-related plunge in March, the index has varied in a fairly narrow range between -17 and -3 since mid-January, within which the current -12 reading, based on interviewing conducted July 8-14, is about average.
Longer term, however, the readings for 2013 continue to represent a meaningful improvement over 2011 and most of 2012.
The Gallup Economic Confidence Index has a possible maximum of +100 (reached if all Americans rate current economic conditions as excellent or good, and all Americans say the economy is getting better) and a possible minimum of -100 (reached if all rate the current economy as poor, and say the economy is getting worse). The zero midpoint indicates either neutral or mixed attitudes about the economy.
Outlook Worsens More Than Perceptions of Current Conditions
Both index components -- Americans' ratings of current economic conditions and their perceptions of the economy's direction -- were down last week; however, the outlook dimension slipped more, falling four points to -10, from -6.
Consumer perceptions of current economic conditions have not varied as much in 2013. The -14 rating last week was down just two points from the week prior and down three points from the end of June.
The dog days of summer are being met with some deterioration in Americans' economic views -- particularly in their optimism that economic conditions are improving. It is possible that, after Americans felt increasingly better about the economy from March through May, paralleling steady gains on Wall Street, the positive momentum was stalled by the weak May jobs report released in early June and the downward revision of first quarter GDP at the end of that month. Americans may now require reassurance, beyond rising stock prices, that better economic days are ahead.
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 June 8-14, 2013, with a random sample of 3,552 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 maximum 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 and cell telephone 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, and cellphone mostly). 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.