Even before Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast region in late August, Gallup found Americans' perceptions about the nation's economy edging more negative. The percentage of Americans rating economic conditions as excellent or good dropped slightly from 36% in early August to 31% in late September. Americans' outlook on the economy also grew more pessimistic, with 36% saying economic conditions were getting better in early August, compared with a 24% rating most recently in late September.
In order to better understand how different groups of Americans currently feel about economic conditions in the country, Gallup combined the results of its last three surveys (Aug. 22-25, Sept. 12-15, Sept. 26-28)*. The results show those living in lower-income households, Democrats, blacks, and women are most sour on the economy.
One of the starkest variations in ratings of the economy follows partisan lines; Republicans are much more positive than Democrats about the state of the nation's economy. A majority of Republicans, 58%, rate economic conditions as excellent or good, while 27% of independents and just 13% of Democrats share this point of view. (About 4 in 10 Democrats rate conditions as poor.)
Nearly half of Republicans (48%) say economic conditions are getting better, while 40% say they are getting worse. Strong majorities of both independents (68%) and Democrats (84%) say conditions are getting worse.
Lower-Income vs. Higher-Income Households
Americans in higher-income households are substantially more positive about economy than are those living in lower-income households. Forty-two percent of respondents in households earning $75,000 or more per year rate current economic conditions as excellent or good. This compares with 32% of those earning between $30,000 and $75,000 annually and just 22% of those earning less than $30,000.
Similarly, 35% of those earning $75,000 or more per year say conditions are getting better, while 26% of those earning between $30,000 and $75,000 and 18% of those earning less feel this way. However, a majority of respondents at all income levels say conditions are worsening.
Whites vs. Blacks
Whites are nearly three times more likely than blacks to rate current economic conditions as excellent or good. Nearly half of blacks (48%) rate conditions as poor.
And, while neither group is overly positive about the direction of the economy, whites are still more optimistic about it than blacks are. Twenty-nine percent of whites say economic conditions are getting better, while 62% say they are getting worse. Among blacks, 11% say they are getting better and 85% say getting worse.
Men vs. Women
Men's assessments of the economy are somewhat more positive than women's, although a majority of both groups say conditions are getting worse. Among men, 37% rate current economic conditions as excellent or good, while among women, only 27% feel this way. Three in 10 men (31%) say conditions are getting better; but only 21% of women say they are improving. A majority of both men (59%) and women (71%) say conditions are getting worse.
*Results are based on telephone interviews with 2,934 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Aug. 22-25, Sept. 12-15, and Sept. 26-28, 2005. 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.