Americans Becoming More Pessimistic on the Economy

    NEW YORK , N.Y. – July 21, 2011 – Between the negotiations on the debt ceiling and the recent disappointment in the jobs reports, it is perhaps not surprising that President Obama is at his lowest point in American’s opinions on his handling of the economy. Just one-quarter of Americans (26%) give him positive ratings while three-quarters (74%) give him negative ratings on his handling of the economy. Last month, 27% of U.S. adults gave the President positive ratings while 73% gave him negative marks. When it comes to his handling of the economy, even majorities of Democrats (55%) give President Obama negative ratings.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,183 adults surveyed online between July 11 and 18, 2011.

    The economy

    Looking at the economy in general, people are turning more pessimistic. In June, one-quarter of Americans (26%) expected the overall economy to improve in the coming year, two in five (41%) thought it would stay the same and one-third (33%) thought it would get worse. This month, while two in five (41%) still think the economy will stay the same, 37% believe it will get worse and 23% think it will get better in the coming year. This is a question that has been asked on and off since spring 2009 and this is the most pessimistic people have been.

    And when asked specifically when they think the economy will begin growing again, almost half of Americans (47%) say not for another year or longer, 16% say between 6 and 12 months from now, 8% say within the next six months and only one in ten (11%) believe it has already started growing. In March, one in five (21%) thought the economy had already started growing.

    The job market

    Hand in hand with pessimism on the overall economy is pessimism on the job market. Two-thirds of Americans (64%) rate the current job market in their region of the country as bad, one in ten (12%) rate it as good and one-quarter (24%) say it is neither good nor bad. In May, three in five U.S. adults said the job market was bad (61%), 16% said it was good and 23% said it was neither good nor bad.

    There is also not a lot of hope for the next six months. Just one in five (22%) Americans say they think the job market in their region of the nation will be better over the next six months, over half say it will remain the same (53%) and one-quarter (25%) believe it will get worse. In May, three in ten U.S. adults (30%) thought the job market would get better while one in five (21%) thought it would get worse.

    So What?

    While expectations on the job market were always on the lower side, Americans had begun feeling better about the overall economy. In February, over one-third of U.S. adults (34%) thought the economy would improve in the coming year while just one-quarter (25%) thought it would get worse. Now things look gloomy yet again. And, this is what is wearing on the American psyche – things change so quickly and the hope that things are improving gets dashed in just a few short months. It is tiring and is one of the reasons that only one-quarter of people say things are going in the right direction in the country. Until there is a steady drum beat of good news that people believe will last, this pessimism will continue.

     

    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

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE (NET)

    33

    33

    33

    32

    27

    26

    Excellent

    7

    9

    5

    7

    5

    3

    Pretty good

    26

    24

    28

    26

    22

    23

    NEGATIVE (NET)

    67

    62

    67

    68

    73

    74

    Only fair

    30

    22

    29

    28

    30

    33

    Poor

    37

    39

    38

    40

    43

    41

    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)

    26

    5

    45

    21

    8

    27

    48

    Excellent

    3

    1

    5

    1

     

    2

    6

    Pretty good

    23

    4

    40

    20

    8

    24

    42

    NEGATIVE (NET)

    74

    95

    55

    79

    92

    73

    52

    Only fair

    33

    24

    41

    32

    20

    40

    37

    Poor

    41

    71

    14

    47

    72

    33

    15

    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

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Improve

    39

    38

    46

    40

    34

    38

    30

    29

    28

    30

    34

    29

    34

    26

    23

    Stay the same

    35

    35

    32

    36

    37

    34

    42

    39

    40

    40

    41

    45

    42

    41

    41

    Get worse

    26

    27

    22

    24

    29

    28

    28

    32

    32

    30

    25

    26

    25

    33

    37

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

     

    TABLE 4

    WHEN ECONOMY WILL GROW AGAIN – TREND

    When do you believe the economy will start growing again?

    Base: All adults

    2009

    2010

    2011

    June

    Dec

    Jan

    Mar

    April

    June

    March

    July

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Already has started growing

    7

    13

    14

    12

    17

    14

    21

    11

    WITHIN NEXT SIX MONTHS (NET)

    12

    13

    12

    11

    9

    7

    7

    8

    Between now and 3 months from now

    4

    3

    4

    4

    3

    2

    2

    4

    Between 3 and 6 months from now

    8

    10

    8

    7

    6

    5

    5

    5

    Between 6 and 12 months from now

    28

    21

    22

    19

    17

    18

    15

    16

    Not for another year or longer

    41

    38

    39

    43

    39

    43

    39

    47

    Not at all sure

    13

    15

    14

    17

    18

    18

    19

    17

    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

    2011

    Jan

    Mar.

    April

    May

    June

    Aug

    Sept

    Oct

    Nov

    Dec

    Jan

    Feb

    March

    May

    July

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    GOOD (NET)

    10

    8

    10

    12

    10

    12

    10

    13

    11

    13

    13

    15

    13

    16

    12

    Neither good nor bad

    20

    18

    21

    20

    25

    22

    21

    21

    23

    24

    22

    24

    22

    23

    24

    BAD (NET)

    70

    73

    70

    68

    66

    66

    69

    66

    66

    63

    65

    61

    65

    61

    64

    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)

    12

    16

    10

    14

    9

    Very good

    2

    1

    1

    3

     

    Somewhat good

    11

    15

    9

    11

    8

    Neither good nor bad

    24

    21

    24

    26

    23

    BAD (NET)

    64

    63

    66

    60

    69

    Somewhat bad

    35

    32

    35

    35

    36

    Very bad

    29

    32

    30

    25

    33

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

     

    TABLE 7

    EXPECTATIONS FOR JOB MARKET IN SIX MONTHS – TREND

    How do you think that the job market in your region of the nation will change over the next 6 months?

    Base: All adults

    2009

    2010

    2011

    Jan

    April

    June

    Aug

    June

    Aug

    Sept

    Oct

    Nov

    Dec

    Jan

    Feb

    Mar

    May

    July

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    BETTER (NET)

    15

    23

    21

    28

    26

    23

    21

    23

    30

    25

    31

    31

    32

    30

    22

    Will be much better

    1

    3

    2

    2

    1

    2

    2

    3

    2

    2

    4

    4

    2

    4

    2

    Will be somewhat better

    14

    20

    19

    26

    25

    21

    19

    20

    28

    23

    26

    27

    30

    26

    20

    Will remain the same

    36

    42

    47

    47

    53

    49

    53

    53

    50

    54

    51

    51

    52

    49

    53

    WORSE (NET)

    49

    36

    32

    25

    21

    27

    26

    24

    21

    22

    18

    18

    16

    21

    25

    Will be somewhat worse

    36

    29

    24

    19

    15

    22

    20

    18

    15

    16

    13

    13

    11

    14

    17

    Will be much worse

    14

    7

    8

    6

    6

    5

    6

    6

    6

    6

    6

    5

    6

    7

    8

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

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between July 11 to 18, 2011 among 2,183 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.

    J40488

    Q705, 710, 715, 720, 725

    The Harris Poll ® #86, July 21, 2011

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