SAN FRANCISCO – Americans’ views of the US economy have soured significantly in the past month, a new poll shows, with nearly half expecting economic conditions to worsen next year.
Only 35% of Americans describe the national economy as good, while 65% describe it as poor, according to a survey by the Associated Press-NORC Public Affairs Research Center. That’s a dip since September, when 45% of Americans described the economy as good, and back to where views of the country’s economy were in January and February, when the pandemic was rampant across the country.
The deterioration in Americans’ economic sentiment comes as the cost of goods rises across the country, especially gas prices, and bottlenecks in the global supply chain have made it more difficult to buy everything from furniture to cars. The Labor Department reported earlier this month that consumer prices in September rose 5.4% from a year earlier, the largest one-year increase since 2008.
Nadine Christian, 56, said she was concerned about the rising cost of living in the past year.
“I grew up in the 1970s and I remember it was hard for my parents to make ends meet,” Christian said, referring to the last time the US economy was hit hard by high inflation. “It’s not as bad as it was at the time, but I feel any day we can go off the rails.”
Nearly half of Americans – 47% – now say they expect the economy to get worse next year, compared to just 30% who think it will get better. In an AP-NORC poll conducted in February and March, the situation was reversed: 44% expected the economy to improve next year and only 32% said it would get worse.
Earlier this year, 70% of Democrats said they expected the economy to improve. Now, only 51% do. The percentage of Republicans who think the economy will get worse grew to 74% from 59% earlier in the year.
Joseph Binkley, 34, of Indiana, said he’s worried about inflation but thinks the problems in the economy are temporary.
“I think it’s mostly a supply and demand issue, as the economy improves,” he said.
Binkley said he supports President Biden’s economic policies.
“A lot of the early years of the presidency deal with the politics of the predecessor. I think Biden has to work through the problems of the previous administration.”
An AP-NORC poll showed that a majority of Americans are critical of Biden’s handling of the economy, with 58% saying they disagree and 41% agreeing.
Despite the deteriorating economic outlook for Americans, the survey found that they remain relatively optimistic about their financial conditions. The survey found that 65% of Americans say their personal financial situation is good, a number that has held steady since before the pandemic. However, 24% say they think their personal finances will get worse next year, up from 13% earlier this year.
The survey also showed signs that the pandemic has helped improve workers’ bargaining power: 36% of Americans are very confident or very confident that they can find a good job if they want to. In March 2020, 25% said so, and in June 2019, 30% said so. Another 35% said they were at least somewhat confident.
About half of Americans, 49%, say they are fully confident in their ability to pay an unexpected $1,000 bill, up from 36% in March 2020 and 40% in June 2019.
However, economic disparities persist between black and Hispanic Americans compared to their white counterparts. White Americans are more likely to be more confident in their ability to pay an unexpected bill or medical expense than black or Latino Americans.
For companies, supply chain issues have dampened the economic outlook. Dozens of large companies said it was difficult to find basic commodities for manufacturing, such as raw materials and semiconductors.
“Companies keep telling me, ‘If I could just get the stuff, my business would grow exponentially,'” said Steve Steinor, CEO of Huntington Banks, a large regional banking chain primarily in the Midwest.
– Associated Press