December 22nd, 2009
12:19 PM ET
11 months ago

CNN Poll: Weak economic numbers dovetail with public perception

Washington (CNN) – Eight in ten Americans say that the economy is in poor shape, but that's an improvement from a year ago, according to a new national poll.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey's Tuesday release comes as the government reports that economic growth in the third quarter was much weaker than previously estimated.

According to the poll, 80 percent of Americans say economic conditions are poor. As bad as that sounds, it's a 13 point decline from last December. Twenty percent of the people questioned in the survey say economic conditions are good, up 12 points from a year ago.
"The good news is that Americans remain optimistic, with 58 percent forecasting that the economy will be in good shape a year from now," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Optimism is highest in big cities and lowest in rural areas."

With the nation's unemployment level at 10 percent, jobs are obviously a concern across the board, but the poll indicates a racial divide on the issue, with black Americans feeling they face a tougher job situation than whites. Fifty-four percent of blacks questioned in the survey say that African-Americans don't have the same chance as whites to get jobs that they are qualified for. Less than 1 in 4 white respondents agreed.

"Although 54 percent blacks today don't think that they have the same employment opportunities as whites, that's actually down significantly from past polls," Holland says. "In the 1990s, two-thirds of blacks felt that way, and in the 1960s, three-quarters shared that view."

The Obama administration will face several major policy questions in 2010, with the deficit, unemployment, and new regulation of financial institutions chief among them. Worries about the deficit are growing, but a majority of Americans still say that economic recovery should be a higher priority than reducing the deficit.

"And when the deficit is pitted against unemployment, that number grows higher. Fifty-seven percent say that economic recovery should be a higher priority for the Obama administration than deficit reduction; three-quarters say that reducing unemployment should take precedence over the deficit," adds Holland.

As for new financial regulations, 45 percent say there is too little government regulation of the stock market and other financial institutions. Six in ten say that those financial institutions have too much influence over the Obama administration.

According to the government's final reading released Tuesday, the gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the nation's economic activity, grew at an annual rate of only 2.2 percent in the three months ending in September. A month ago the estimate was growth of 2.8 percent, and the initial reading in October was more robust growth of 3.5 percent.

The latest report showed that consumer spending, which accounts for more than two thirds of the nation's economic activity, was much weaker than previously thought. Businesses also didn't do as much to build up inventories of goods as in the previous reading.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted December 16-20, with 1,160 adult Americans, including 259 African-Americans and 786 whites, questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points

Full results (pdf)

– CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

Follow Paul Steinuaser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn


Filed under: Economy
soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. concerned

    This mess is only going to get worse. You can't run a society without jobs, we should never have become a service society. We should never have allowed outsourcing and relocation. We are failing because this is now the land of dependence. It was independence that gave us our strength. We cant keep depending on china and supporting their communist society. We need to keep our jobs here, put Americans first, make and buy our own goods, not force the unemployed and dirt poor to buy health insurance, and we need to stop eroding the foundations our country was formed on. This isn't a game we are playing, our freedom is at stake. We can't survive on walmart ,part time only now wages, or working two part time jobs to equal one job. Workers deserve rights and laws to protect them. Washington is out of touch with the people! Unless we get money circulating again to the working class, nothing is going to change. Unless we look out for worker's rights nothing is going to change. The american worker needs to be bailed out!

    December 22, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  2. Renee' McDuffie

    The reason why we are in the shape we are in is that we have forgotten about the Lord. Until we stop all of this fear and hate mongering we will continue to go down. Everyone needs to realize that the President did not get to be were he is by a flute. This man has God behind him and no weapons against hilm will prosper. If you follow the path of God his skin color is that of Obama. You haters better be careful about judging him. We are worried about terrorist on forgein soil some people who write on the page seem that way to me.

    December 22, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
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