One-third of Americans Expect Economy to Improve in Coming Year

    NEW YORK, N.Y. – March 1, 2011 – There may still be a great deal of uncertainty on where the job market is heading, but people seem to be feeling a little more positive overall on the economy. Looking ahead, one-third of Americans (34%) say they expect the economy to improve in the coming year, one-quarter (25%) say they expect it to get worse and two in five (42%) say they expect it to stay the same. In December, just three in ten (29%) said they expected the economy to improve in the coming year, while 45% thought it would stay the same and one-quarter (26%) said it would get worse.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 3,171 adults surveyed online between February 14 and 21, 2011 by Harris Interactive.

    Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

    The one lagging indicator during the economic recovery has been jobs. And it is also lagging in the minds of Americans, but there are indications people are more optimistic, albeit slightly more. Currently, three in five U.S. adults (61%) rate the current job market in their region of the nation as bad, one-quarter (24%) rate it as neither good nor bad and 15% say it is good. Last month, almost two-thirds of Americans (65%) rated it as bad and 13% said it was good. While these numbers may not seem all that strong, they are the highest since July of 2008 when half of Americans (51%) said the job market was bad and three in ten (30%) said it was good.

    Looking at this by region, there are some brighter spots. One-quarter of Easterners (24%) say the job market in their region is good and just half (51%) say it is bad. The South and the Midwest are in the middle with three in five saying the job market in their region is bad (60% and 59% respectively) while 17% of Southerners say it is good and 13% of Midwesterners saying that. The West seems to be the sore spot for jobs. Seven in ten Westerners (71%) say the job market in their region is bad while just 7% say it is good.

    Looking ahead, half of Americans (51%) say the job market in their region of the nation will be the same in the next six months while three in ten (31%) say it will be better and one in five (18%) say it will be worse. This is virtually unchanged since January.

    So What?

    Perceptions on the economy always lag behind reality, especially when the reality is presented by economists. People wait until they feel more secure about their job, or the prospect of finding a new one, before they say the job market is solid again. A similar feeling holds for the overall economy – once people aren’t thinking twice about spending money or dipping into savings, then there is a sense that the economy has improved. The American economy doesn’t seem to be quite there yet, but there are very small encouraging signs it is headed that way.

     

    TABLE 1

    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

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Improve

    39

    38

    46

    40

    34

    38

    30

    29

    28

    30

    34

    29

    34

    Stay the same

    35

    35

    32

    36

    37

    34

    42

    39

    40

    40

    41

    45

    42

    Get worse

    26

    27

    22

    24

    29

    28

    28

    32

    32

    30

    25

    26

    25

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

     

     

     

    TABLE 2A

    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

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    GOOD (NET)

    10

    8

    10

    12

    10

    12

    10

    13

    11

    13

    13

    15

    Neither good nor bad

    20

    18

    21

    20

    25

    22

    21

    21

    23

    24

    22

    24

    BAD (NET)

    70

    73

    70

    68

    66

    66

    69

    66

    66

    63

    65

    61

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

     

     

     

    TABLE 2B

    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)

    15

    24

    13

    17

    7

    Very good

    4

    13

    2

    1

    1

    Somewhat good

    12

    11

    11

    16

    7

    Neither good nor bad

    24

    25

    28

    22

    22

    BAD (NET)

    61

    51

    59

    60

    71

    Somewhat bad

    38

    36

    35

    38

    42

    Very bad

    23

    16

    25

    22

    28

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

     

     

    TABLE 3

    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

    Jan.

    2009

    April

    2009

    June

    2009

    August 2009

    June 2010

    Aug

    2010

    Sept 2010

    Oct 2010

    Nov

    2010

    Dec 2010

    Jan 2011

    Feb 2011

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    BETTER (NET)

    15

    23

    21

    28

    26

    23

    21

    23

    30

    25

    31

    31

    Will be much better

    1

    3

    2

    2

    1

    2

    2

    3

    2

    2

    4

    4

    Will be somewhat better

    14

    20

    19

    26

    25

    21

    19

    20

    28

    23

    26

    27

    Will remain the same

    36

    42

    47

    47

    53

    49

    53

    53

    50

    54

    51

    51

    WORSE (NET)

    49

    36

    32

    25

    21

    27

    26

    24

    21

    22

    18

    18

    Will be somewhat worse

    36

    29

    24

    19

    15

    22

    20

    18

    15

    16

    13

    13

    Will be much worse

    14

    7

    8

    6

    6

    5

    6

    6

    6

    6

    6

    5

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

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between February 14 to 21, 2011 among 3,171 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.

    J39370

    Q715, 720, 725

     

     

    The Harris Poll ® #27, March 1, 2011

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