- Confidence in leaders on the economy ranges from 34% to 38%
- Ratings for Joe Biden, Jerome Powell have fallen in the past year
- Democrats more confident than Republicans, independents in leaders
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- With the U.S. facing a deadline to increase the nation’s debt limit and the threat of an economic recession looming, Americans lack confidence in a variety of key U.S. leaders on economic matters. Gallup finds between 34% and 38% of U.S. adults expressing a "great deal" or "fair amount" of confidence in President Joe Biden, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and congressional leaders in both major parties to do or recommend the right thing for the economy.
While the percentage of Americans with a great deal or fair amount of confidence is similar across the five leaders, there is more variation in the percentage who say they have almost no confidence in them. Nearly half of Americans say they have almost no confidence in Biden, and 41% say the same about Democratic leaders in Congress.
These results are based on Gallup’s annual Economy and Personal Finance survey, conducted April 3-25. The poll also found that Americans are less optimistic about the state of the U.S. economy than they have been in recent months and that Biden is at a low point in his overall job approval rating.
Declining Confidence in All Economic Leaders
Confidence in all leaders is at least marginally lower than a year ago, including significant declines for Biden and Powell. These changes follow steep declines between 2021 and 2022 for all but congressional Republicans.
The result of these changes is that all four leaders earn confidence ratings below 40% in the same year, the first time that has occurred in Gallup’s polling of this question since 2001.
Gallup did not ask about Yellen in 2022, but her current reading is down substantially from 2021, early in her tenure as treasury secretary for the Biden administration, when 54% were confident in her (and 57% in Biden).
Powell’s Rating Ties as Low for Fed Chairs
The 36% rating for Powell is the lowest Gallup has measured for him during his six years as Fed chair. It is also the lowest reading Gallup has had for any prior Fed chair -- although not significantly different from Yellen’s 37% in 2014 and 38% in 2016 when she was Fed chair, or Ben Bernanke’s 39% in 2012.
The Fed has attempted to slow inflation by raising interest rates sharply in the past year. While inflation has moderated to some degree, it remains high. The interest rate hikes are meant to slow economic growth and hiring, but they also risk putting the U.S. into an economic recession. The first quarter's gross domestic product figures showed economic growth slowing to 1.1%, but hiring remains strong and the unemployment rate is stable.
Democratic congressional leaders’ 34% confidence rating is also the lowest for that group in Gallup’s trend, although not meaningfully different from the 35% measured in 2014. The same 2014 poll found 24% of Americans were confident in Republican leaders in Congress, the lowest Gallup has measured for any leader in the 23-year history of the question.
Biden’s 35% confidence rating also nearly matches the low for presidents -- 34% for George W. Bush in 2008.
Democrats More Confident in Leaders
Democrats express more confidence in all leaders except for Republican congressional leadership, given that most of the leaders asked about are affiliated with the Biden administration or the Democratic Party. In fact, Democrats have the most confidence in Biden, followed by Democratic congressional leaders, Yellen and Powell.
Most Republicans are confident in the Republican leaders in Congress but not in any of the other leaders asked about, while independents do not express majority-level confidence in any of the leaders.
The pattern is fairly typical, with supporters of the president’s party more confident in the president, Fed chair and treasury secretary. This is the case even for Fed chairs who -- like Powell, Yellen, Bernanke and Alan Greenspan -- have served presidents from both major parties.
For example, when Powell served under Donald Trump between 2018 and 2020, Republicans (with an average of 62%) were more confident than Democrats (an average of 48%) in Powell’s leadership. Since Biden has been president, Democrats have been more confident than Republicans in Powell (66% and 28% on average, respectively).
Americans’ growing concern about the economy is manifested in their views of the key government officials responsible for economic policy. None of these leaders engenders much confidence now, and Americans have similarly low confidence levels in each. In fact, many are at or near low points in the two-decade history of Gallup’s trend.
Historically, Americans’ confidence in their leaders on economic matters has risen and fallen depending on the health of the economy. As such, if the economy falls into a recession later this year, confidence in political leaders may erode further. However, if the economy improves and avoids a recession, Americans’ confidence may be restored.
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