Americans Still Very Pessimistic on the Economy

    NEW YORK , N.Y. -September 26, 2011 – As Americans continue to struggle financially and as the financial markets continue to have large swings, it is not surprising that U.S. adults are expressing very negative feelings on the economy and the job market. Looking at the President’s ratings, just one in five Americans (21%) give him positive ratings on his handling of the economy while 79% give him negative ratings. In July, 26% of U.S. adults gave the President positive ratings while 74% gave him negative marks. When it comes to his handling of the economy, even large majorities of Democrats (58%) and Liberals (64%) give President Obama negative ratings.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,462 adults surveyed online between September 12 and 19, 2011.

    The economy

    Looking at the economy in general, it seems people are continuing to be pessimistic. In July, one-quarter of Americans (23%) expected the overall economy to improve in the coming year, two in five (41%) thought it would stay the same and a little over one-third (37%) thought it would get worse. This month, 45% think the economy will stay the same, 34% believe it will get worse and 21% think it will get better in the coming year.

    Breaking down economic conditions to a regional level, just one in ten Americans rate the economic condition of their region of the country as good (12%), 22% say it is neither good nor bad and two-thirds (65%) say it is bad. In May, one in five U.S. adults (18%) thought the economy in their region was good, 23% said it was neither good nor bad and three in five (59%) said it was bad.

    The job market

    Hand in hand with pessimism on the overall economy is pessimism on the job market. Two-thirds of Americans (67%) rate the current job market in their region of the country as bad, one in ten (11%) rate it as good and 22% say it is neither good nor bad. In July, 64% of U.S. adults said the job market was bad, 12% said it was good and 24% said it was neither good nor bad.

    Recession?

    As many questions swirl about a double dip recession, a large majority of Americans do not even think we’ve come out of the first recession. Seven in ten U.S. adults (69%) say the United States is still in a recession while one in ten say the U.S. came out of a recession but will now enter a new recession (11%) and another one in ten say the U.S. has come out of a recession and the economy is growing (10%). There is a partisan difference as well with three-quarters of Republicans (76%) saying we are still in a recession compared to 69% of Independents and 65% of Democrats.

    So What?

    Americans are waiting for answers on when the economy is going to turn around. Right now, they do not have much optimism that things are going to get better soon. In fact, contrary to what economists have been saying, Americans do not even think we have come out of the recession. President Obama went to Congress to talk about jobs. Now they have to agree on and pass legislation that show voters they understand their concerns. Until this happens, the pessimism will likely remain.

     

    TABLE 1

    PRESIDENT OBAMA’S JOB RATING ON THE ECONOMY – TREND

    Now, turning to something different, how would you rate the overall job that President Barack Obama is doing on the economy?

    Base: All adults

    2009

    March

    April

    May

    June

    Aug

    Sept

    Nov

    Dec

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE (NET)

    47

    49

    46

    43

    39

    40

    34

    36

    Excellent

    13

    13

    10

    3

    9

    7

    6

    6

    Pretty good

    34

    36

    36

    34

    31

    33

    27

    30

    NEGATIVE (NET)

    53

    51

    54

    57

    61

    60

    66

    64

    Only fair

    30

    27

    30

    27

    25

    27

    30

    30

    Poor

    23

    24

    24

    30

    36

    33

    37

    34

    2010

    Jan

    Mar

    Apr

    May

    June

    Aug

    Sept

    Oct

    Nov

    Dec

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE (NET)

    31

    32

    33

    36

    32

    32

    29

    27

    31

    30

    Excellent

    5

    5

    6

    6

    5

    6

    5

    5

    5

    5

    Pretty good

    25

    27

    27

    30

    27

    26

    24

    22

    26

    25

    NEGATIVE (NET)

    69

    68

    67

    64

    68

    68

    71

    73

    69

    70

    Only fair

    31

    30

    31

    29

    32

    29

    31

    33

    30

    34

    Poor

    39

    37

    36

    34

    37

    39

    40

    39

    39

    36

    2011

    Jan

    Feb

    Mar

    May

    June

    July

    Sept.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE (NET)

    33

    33

    33

    32

    27

    26

    21

    Excellent

    7

    9

    5

    7

    5

    3

    2

    Pretty good

    26

    24

    28

    26

    22

    23

    18

    NEGATIVE (NET)

    67

    62

    67

    68

    73

    74

    79

    Only fair

    30

    22

    29

    28

    30

    33

    33

    Poor

    37

    39

    38

    40

    43

    41

    46

    Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding; In February Not at all sure was offered as a response choice and 4% responded in that way.

     

    TABLE 2

    PRESIDENT OBAMA’S JOB RATING ON THE ECONOMY – BY POLITICAL PARTY

    Now, turning to something different, how would you rate the overall job that President Barack Obama is doing on the economy?

    Base: All adults

    Total

    Political Party

    Philosophy

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    Cons.

    Mod.

    Lib.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE (NET)

    21

    3

    42

    18

    6

    24

    36

    Excellent

    2

    1

    4

    3

    2

    3

    2

    Pretty good

    18

    2

    38

    15

    5

    21

    34

    NEGATIVE (NET)

    79

    97

    58

    82

    94

    76

    64

    Only fair

    33

    18

    41

    37

    17

    39

    46

    Poor

    46

    80

    17

    46

    77

    37

    17

    Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding; indicates less than .05%

     

    TABLE 3

    EXPECTATIONS FOR THE ECONOMY IN THE COMING YEAR – TREND

    In the coming year, do you expect the economy to…?

    Base: All adults

    2009

    2010

    2011

    April

    May

    Aug

    Sept

    Oct

    May

    June

    Aug

    Sept

    Oct

    Nov

    Dec

    Feb

    June

    July

    Sept

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Improve

    39

    38

    46

    40

    34

    38

    30

    29

    28

    30

    34

    29

    34

    26

    23

    21

    Stay the same

    35

    35

    32

    36

    37

    34

    42

    39

    40

    40

    41

    45

    42

    41

    41

    45

    Get worse

    26

    27

    22

    24

    29

    28

    28

    32

    32

    30

    25

    26

    25

    33

    37

    34

    Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 4

     RATING OF ECONOMIC CONDITIONS IN REGION – TREND

    How would you rate the economic condition of your region of the nation?

    Base: All adults

    2008

    2009

    2011

    2011

    Nov.

    Jan.

    May

    Sept.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    GOOD (NET)

    10

    10

    18

    12

    Very good

    1

    1

    4

    2

    Somewhat good

    9

    9

    14

    11

    Neither good nor bad

    16

    17

    23

    22

    BAD (NET)

    74

    72

    59

    65

    Somewhat bad

    45

    46

    36

    39

    Very bad

    28

    26

    23

    26

    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 5

    RATING OF CURRENT JOB MARKET – TREND

    How would you rate the current job market of your region of the nation?

    Base: All adults

    2008

    2009

    June

    July

    Jan

    April

    June

    Aug

    Sept

    Oct

    Nov

    Dec

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    GOOD (NET)

    28

    30

    6

    12

    9

    8

    10

    10

    8

    9

    Neither good nor bad

    18

    19

    18

    20

    19

    21

    22

    20

    18

    19

    BAD (NET)

    53

    51

    76

    68

    72

    71

    68

    70

    73

    72

    2010

    Jan

    Mar.

    April

    May

    June

    Aug

    Sept

    Oct

    Nov

    Dec

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    GOOD (NET)

    10

    8

    10

    12

    10

    12

    10

    13

    11

    13

    Neither good nor bad

    20

    18

    21

    20

    25

    22

    21

    21

    23

    24

    BAD (NET)

    70

    73

    70

    68

    66

    66

    69

    66

    66

    63

    Jan

    Feb

    March

    May

    July

    Sept

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    GOOD (NET)

    13

    15

    13

    16

    12

    11

    Neither good nor bad

    22

    24

    22

    23

    24

    22

    BAD (NET)

    65

    61

    65

    61

    64

    67

    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 6

    RATING OF CURRENT JOB MARKET IN YOUR REGION – BY REGION

    How would you rate the current job market of your region of the nation?

    Base: All adults

    Total

    Region

    East

    Midwest

    South

    West

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    GOOD (NET)

    11

    11

    11

    14

    9

    Very good

    1

    1

    3

     

    2

    Somewhat good

    10

    10

    8

    13

    7

    Neither good nor bad

    22

    25

    16

    25

    20

    BAD (NET)

    67

    65

    73

    62

    71

    Somewhat bad

    39

    40

    40

    38

    39

    Very bad

    28

    25

    33

    23

    32

    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding; indicates less than .05%

     

    TABLE 7

    ARE WE IN A RECESSION?

    Thinking of the U.S. economy, which statement below is closest to your view?

    Base: All adults

    Total

    Political Party

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    The U.S. is still in a recession

    69

    76

    65

    69

    The U.S. came out of a recession but will now enter a new recession

    11

    12

    11

    10

    The U.S. has come out of a recession and the economy is growing

    10

    4

    13

    11

    Not at all sure

    11

    7

    11

    10

    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between September 12 and 19, 2011 among 2,462 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

    All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

    Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

    These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

    The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

    J40805

    Q705, 710, 715, 720, 730

    The Harris Poll® #102, September 26, 2011

    By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll, Public Relations and Youth Research