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Americans' Confidence in Economic Leaders Edges Up

Americans' Confidence in Economic Leaders Edges Up

Story Highlights

  • Confidence in economic management increases for all federal leaders
  • GOP congressional leaders receive biggest bump, but still lag Democrats
  • Confidence in Fed chair's economic management at highest since 2007

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Though no key federal leader whose job includes managing the U.S. economy earns majority confidence from Americans for their economic leadership, confidence in these leaders has improved slightly since 2018. The percentages of Americans who report a "great deal" or "fair amount" of confidence in the president, Federal Reserve chairman and both Republican and Democratic congressional leaders' management of the economy have all increased by a few percentage points.

Americans' Confidence in Leaders on the Economy, April 2018 vs. April 2019
As I read some names and groups, please tell me how much confidence you have in each to do or to recommend the right thing for the economy -- a great deal, a fair amount, only a little or almost none. How about -- [RANDOM ORDER]?
2018 2019 Change
% Great deal/Fair amount % Great deal/Fair amount (pct. points)
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell 45 50 +5
President Donald Trump 42 47 +5
The Democratic leaders in Congress 44 47 +3
The Republican leaders in Congress 38 45 +7
Average 42 47 +5

Roughly half of Americans express confidence in each of these leaders' management of the economy, with the group's average rating increasing from 42% in 2018 to 47% in 2019.

These data are from Gallup's annual Economy and Personal Finance poll, conducted April 1-9.

Overall improved confidence in these leaders is likely the result of continued gains in the U.S. stock market, as well as the continuation of a low U.S. unemployment rate, which has mostly remained below 4% in the year since Gallup's last poll on the question.

Trump's Economic Ratings Up, but Lag Predecessors at This Point in Office

Though President Donald Trump's handling of the economy remains his greatest strength in the eyes of Americans, confidence in his actions and recommendations on economic matters remains below the 50% mark for the third year in a row.

Ratings of Trump's economic management have been slightly higher than his overall presidential approval ratings so far in his time in office. His latest confidence rating increased by five percentage points from last year to 47%, nearly matching his rating of 48% in his first year in office.

On average, confidence in Trump's economic management has been lower than both Obama's and Bush's. Trump's lowest rating of 42% from last year matches Obama's lowest rating in 2014 and is more positive than Bush's low point of 34% in 2008 during the economic recession. Bush also holds the highest rating Gallup has recorded for a president on the economy since 2001 -- at 73% in 2002.

Line graph. Americans’ confidence in U.S. Presidents’ handling of the economy, 2001–2019.

Half of Americans Have Confidence in Fed Chairman Powell's Management

Confidence in the Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has improved since last year, when Powell was new to the job, with half of Americans now expressing confidence in Powell's ability to make recommendations and take actions that will benefit the U.S. economy -- up from 45% last year. Thirty-two percent of Americans have little or no confidence in Powell, and 19% do not have an opinion.

Powell's current 50% confidence rating is the highest a Federal Reserve chairman has received since 2007, under Ben Bernanke. Like Powell's two immediate predecessors, his ratings have improved upon his second year in the role. Former chairman Alan Greenspan, who served as Fed Chair from 1987 through 2006 and thus was better known in that role, maintained the highest ratings for anyone in this role in Gallup's trend since 2001, including a record high 74% in 2001.

Line Graph. Americans’ confidence in the Federal Reserve Chair to do or recommend the right thing for the U.S. Economy.

Americans' Gain Confidence in Congressional Republicans on Economy

The greatest increase in confidence in economic management over the past year was for Republican congressional leaders, rising seven percentage-points to 45% which puts them on par with Democratic congressional leaders' rating of 47%.

The latest ratings for each party's leaders in Congress nearly match their historical averages since 2001, with Republicans' average of 44% lagging slightly behind Democrats' average of 47%.

Line graph. Americans’ confidence in Democratic and Republican leaders’ handling of the U.S. economy.

Bottom Line

Whether the economy hums or sputters over the next year will play a big role in Americans' confidence in how the country's federal leaders manage the U.S. economy.

Democrats in Congress still enjoy a better public image than Republicans for their economic decision making, but if trust in Trump and congressional Republicans continues to improve, it could bode well for the GOP in the 2020 elections.

Meanwhile, despite ongoing attacks from Trump over the Federal Reserve's continued raising of interest rates, Powell's management is held in relatively high esteem compared with his two immediate predecessors. Powell's future at the Fed is uncertain, though, as Trump considered replacing him as recently as a few months ago. But Americans' assessments of Powell's performance may be a reflection of the economy's overall health as opposed to what Trump thinks Powell should or should not be doing in the role.

One might expect higher ratings of these leaders, given the many recent measures of good economic health. It's likely that Americans' overall lower levels of confidence in figures and institutions play a role in the subdued ratings these leaders currently receive, regardless of positive economic news.

View complete question responses and trends.

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