WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans' economic confidence continued to drop last week, with Gallup's Economic Confidence Index edging down to -20, its lowest weekly score since mid-December.
Americans' economic confidence had recently stabilized after monthly climbs as it recovered from the damaging effects of the federal government shutdown in October. Since the beginning of the year, confidence had remained roughly stable, hovering around -17 and fluctuating by only a point or two each week. The recent drop to -20, though a mere three-point fall, is the largest drop so far in 2014.
The Gallup Economic Confidence Index is the average of two components: Americans' views on current economic conditions in the U.S. and their perceptions of whether the economy is getting better or worse.
Though Americans' views of the nation's current economic situation have not moved much in recent weeks, their outlook on the future has become dimmer, pulling overall confidence down. Just three weeks ago, economic outlook was at -11, but it is now at -20, based on 37% saying the economy is getting better and 57% saying it is getting worse.
International tensions could have played a role in the drop in confidence, because they have created uncertainties for investors over the past week. The drop could also be part of a leveling off from post-federal-shutdown gains that drove increases in the index in recent months. The February Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment report, released Friday, produced mixed statistics that did not boost Americans' confidence.
Because last week's drop is the first of its kind in 2014, it shouldn't be used to make long-term projections. It could, however, be an indicator of what economic confidence will be as winter turns to spring if confidence continues to decline.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted March 3-9, 2014, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 3,032 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 ±3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
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 time zone within region. Landline and cellular 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 most recent Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the most recent National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the most recent U.S. 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.