Only Three in Ten Americans Expect the Economy to Improve in Coming Year

NEWYORK, N.Y. – June 30, 2010 – Earlier this year, Americans seemed to see some green shoots and there was a little economic optimism forming. At the moment, this optimism seems to have slowed down slightly. Looking ahead to the coming year, just three in ten U.S. adults (30%) say they expect the economy to improve while two in five (42%) say it will stay the same; 28% believe it will get worse. Last month, almost two in five Americans (38%) said they thought the economy would improve in the coming year while 34% said it would stay the same and 28% believed it would get worse.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,227 adults surveyed online between June 14 and 21, 2010 by Harris Interactive.

Narrowing the time and focus to the next six months and one’s own household finances, just one in five Americans (21%) believe their financial condition will be better in the next six months while over half (52%) say it will be the same and 27% believe it will get worse. In May, one-quarter (25%) believed their household’s financial condition would be better in the next six months while 47% believed it would remain the same and 28% said it would be worse.

There is an interesting generational difference in how the coming six months are perceived. Younger Americans are more optimistic. Almost three in ten (28%) Echo Boomers (those 18-33) say their household’s finances will be better in the next six months and only 19% say they will be worse. Going to the oldest generation, Matures (aged 65 years and older), just 14% believe their household’s finances will be better in the next six months, while over one-third (36%) say they will be worse.

There are also political party differences. Over one-quarter of Democrats (27%) say they expect their household’s financial condition to be better in the next six months while 18% expect it to be worse. On the other hand, almost two in five Republicans (37%) say they expect their household’s financial condition to be worse in the next six months and only 15% expect it to be better.

There is also a bit of pessimism on when the economy will start growing again. Just 14% of Americans believe the economy has already started growing, down from 17% who said so in April of this year. In April, one in ten (9%) U.S. adults thought the economy would start growing within the next six months and this month only 7% think so. One in five Americans (18%) say the economy will start growing between 6 and 12 months from now, but over two in five (43%) say it won’t start growing for another year or more.

 

So What?

Americans are hoping for some clear signs of economic improvements, but what is clear is that they have yet to see any. And unfortunately, they also do not think that there are any signs in the near future. Until those signs are on the horizon, while the pessimism may ebb and flow, the economic optimism will take a while to shine in the American public.

 

 

TABLE 1

ECONOMIC EXPECTATIONS FOR THE COMING YEAR – TREND

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

Base: All adults

2009

2010

April

May

Aug

Sept

Oct

May

June

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Improve

39

38

46

40

34

38

30

Stay the same

35

35

32

36

37

34

42

Get worse

26

27

22

24

29

28

28

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding; NA = Not asked in that month.

TABLE 2

ECONOMIC EXPECTATIONS FOR THE NEXT 6 MONTHS – TREND

Thinking about your household’s financial condition, do you expect it to be better or worse in the next 6 months?

Base: All adults

2008

2009

Feb

Mar

June

Nov

Jan

Mar

April

May

June

Aug

Sept

Oct

Nov

Dec

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

BETTER (NET)

39

33

40

24

20

20

23

25

21

24

23

23

18

19

Will remain the same

28

28

25

43

48

46

46

45

45

48

48

45

47

48

WORSE (NET)

34

39

36

33

32

35

31

30

33

28

29

31

35

33

2010

Jan

Mar

April

May

June

%

%

%

%

%

BETTER (NET)

21

21

22

25

21

Will remain the same

49

47

50

47

52

WORSE (NET)

30

32

29

28

27

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

TABLE 3

ECONOMIC EXPECTATIONS FOR THE NEXT 6 MONTHS – BY GENERATION AND POLITICAL PARTY

Thinking about your household’s financial condition, do you expect it to be better or worse in the next 6 months?

Base: All adults

Total

Generation

Political Party

Echo

Boomers

(18-33)

Gen X

(34-45)

Baby

Boomers

(46-64)

Matures

(65+)

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

BETTER (NET)

21

28

21

20

14

15

27

21

Will be much better

4

5

3

5

2

6

3

4

Will be somewhat better

17

23

19

15

12

9

24

17

Will remain the same

52

53

53

50

50

48

55

51

WORSE (NET)

27

19

26

30

36

37

18

28

Will be somewhat worse

21

16

18

20

32

27

14

21

Will be much worse

7

4

7

10

4

10

3

6

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

June

2009

Dec

2009

Jan

2010

Mar.

2010

April

2010

June

2010

%

%

%

%

%

%

Already has started growing

7

13

14

12

17

14

WITHIN NEXT SIX MONTHS (NET)

12

13

12

11

9

7

Between now and 3 months from now

4

3

4

4

3

2

Between 3 and 6 months from now

8

10

8

7

6

5

Between 6 and 12 months from now

28

21

22

19

17

18

Not for another year or longer

41

38

39

43

39

43

Not at all sure

13

15

14

17

18

18

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

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between June 14 and 21, 2010 among 2,227 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.

J38301

Q715, 720, 725

The Harris Poll ® #84, June 30, 2010

By Regina Corso, Director The Harris Poll, Harris Interactive

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.