Poll: More Americans lack confidence in U.S. economy

By Casey Harper | The Center Square

As economic figures cast doubt on a post-COVID economic boom, the latest polling data show Americans lack confidence in the economy under President Joe Biden.

New polling data released by Gallup Monday shows Americans are not confident in the economy and are largely unhappy with the nation’s current trajectory.

The poll found only 36% of Americans are “satisfied with the way things are going.” Specifically on the economy, Americans also are pessimistic.

“Twenty-seven percent of Americans now rate current economic conditions as excellent or good, while 30% rate them as poor,” Gallup reports. “Meanwhile, 43% say the economy is getting better, and 53% say it is getting worse.”

Gallup’s economic index uses a scale of -100 to +100 to measure Americans’ sentiments around the economy and other issues. The number released Monday found the index at -7, down from +2 in the previous month and well below the +43 that was measured in February 2020, when President Donald Trump was still in office and just before the pandemic began.

The poll comes after recently released economic data disappointed economists. The Bureau of Labor said earlier this month that unemployment spiked to 6.1% in April. The economy added only 266,000 new jobs that month, far short of the one million new jobs predicted by experts. Also, unemployment filings rose sharply during COVID and remain high, despite widespread vaccinations.

The poll also found that Americans increasingly see COVID as less of an issue and the struggling economy as the bigger priority. The poll found 21% of Americans cited an economic issue as the most important problem in the nation, the highest since April of 2017.

“Even during the worst phases of the coronavirus pandemic, Americans’ attention was focused more on the coronavirus and other issues as the most important problem, including times when economic confidence was much lower than today,” Gallup reports. “Before the current survey, the highest percentage mentioning economic matters as the most important problem since the pandemic began was 19% in June.”

A Rasmussen poll from last week showed many Americans blame the economic woes on ongoing federal unemployment benefits. When asked, a plurality of 44% of Americans blamed the supplement federal unemployment benefits for increased unemployment, saying the benefits “are making it too easy for unemployed Americans to not work.” Meanwhile, 41% of Americans said unemployment had remained high because “the pandemic is making it hard for unemployed Americans to find work.”

Republicans also have pointed to growing inflation as an ominous economic indicator after BLS reported a spike in consumer prices last month.

“In this Biden economy almost everything we need in order to survive is getting more expensive by the month,” Republican National Convention Spokesperson Paris Dennard said.

Both parties will likely use the upcoming jobs and unemployment data to support their attacks on or defense of the economy.

“The May jobs report to be released in early June could go a long way to convince Americans whether the disappointing April report was a temporary aberration in the economic recovery or the start of a more concerning negative trend,” Gallup said.

The Gallup poll was conducted May 3-18 with a random sample of 1,016 adults in all 50 states. There is 4% margin of error.