CNN Economy Poll: Are you better or worse off than last year?
June 19th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
1 year ago

CNN Economy Poll: Are you better or worse off than last year?

Washington (CNN) - Call it a mixed bag.

They're still a minority, but an increasing number of Americans say economic conditions right now are good, according to a new national poll.

But a CNN/ORC International survey released Wednesday morning also indicates that a plurality of the public says they are personally worse off than they were a year ago.

Thirty-five percent of those questioned in the poll say that economic conditions in the country right now are "very" or "somewhat" good. There has been a slow, steady rise in CNN polling on the percentage who say things are good right now, from 26% in December to 31% in March, 33% in May and 35% now.

But nearly two-thirds say they currently rate the economy as poor. And that may help explain, on a personal level, why 44% of Americans say their financial situation is worse today than it was a year ago. Thirty-six percent say they are better off and one in five say their personal finances are about the same. The numbers are little changed from a CNN poll from May of last year.

"Americans are no more positive about their own personal financial situation than they were a year ago, suggesting that American households don't necessarily see good news on Wall Street as good news for Main Street," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

How will things stand a year from now?

There are almost exactly as many optimists as pessimists in the general public, with 50% saying economic conditions will be good in the summer of 2014 and 49% forecasting a poor economy. That's about where Americans stood in 2010, and is definitely more optimistic than 2011, but appears to represent a big drop from 2012, when two-thirds said conditions would be good in a year.

"The 2012 numbers, however, were heavily influenced by the presidential election, when both Democrats and Republicans thought conditions would be better in the following year, probably because both sides thought their candidate was going to win," adds Holland. "This also happened in 2008 and appears to have happened in 2004 as well."

In non-presidential years, with a Republican in the White House, Democrats tend to be pessimists and Republicans tend to be optimists. With a Democrat in the White House, the reverse is usually true, and that pattern has reasserted itself again this year. In 2012, a majority of Democrats and a majority of Republicans predicted a good economy in 2013. That almost never happens except in presidential election years, leading to expectations that the optimism number would drop once it was clear who would be in the White House for the next four years.

"Sure enough, in 2013 optimism is now half of what it was among Republicans. Although economic optimism is down somewhat among Democrats and independents, the GOP change is the driving force behind a 17-point drop in the number of Americans overall who say conditions will be good a year from now," says Holland.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International June 11-13, with 1,014 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report


Filed under: CNN/ORC International poll • Economy
soundoff (468 Responses)
  1. tom l.

    @Dominican,
    I beg of you to be an adult with your response. Please don't blame the repubs and say something like "ohh, if they weren't obstructing there would be more people employed". The fact is, that with the financial reform act, with the stimulus bill he passed and with the ACA passed, there are still fewer people employed today than when he took office. That should be alarming to you. It should concern you. It should make you think about things and the steps he has taken. Is it working? I'd say that a stat like that proves that big govt does not work.

    June 19, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  2. Malory Archer

    Selma O.

    If the GOP would quit blocking the president eveytime he tries to give us free stuff, we would all be doing better.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    I voted for President Obama but I must have been absent the day they told us where to go for all the "free stuff". Since you know so much about it, where is all the "free stuff"?

    June 19, 2013 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  3. Malory Archer

    tom l.

    @Dominican,
    I beg of you to be an adult with your response. Please don't blame the repubs and say something like "ohh, if they weren't obstructing there would be more people employed". The fact is, that with the financial reform act, with the stimulus bill he passed and with the ACA passed, there are still fewer people employed today than when he took office. That should be alarming to you. It should concern you. It should make you think about things and the steps he has taken. Is it working? I'd say that a stat like that proves that big govt does not work.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    So what do you suggest? And don't say tax cuts for the "job creators" because their tax rate is lower than it's been since the beginning of the industrial revolution yet, as you said: fewer people employed today than when President Obama took office. That being said, don't forget, we were losing 800k jobs a month in the months leading up to the 2008 election. Did you REALLY believe that the election would stop the job losses dead in their tracks? 'cause that would be childish and naïve to say the least. And at least now we're gainig jobs every month – granted not as fast as anyone would like, but again what do you suggest?

    June 19, 2013 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  4. Ed marzouka

    Frankly, I don't see any improvement. Health Ins. cost my family and I $ 4,000.00 deductible per year out of pocket, even with the best policy. Gas price is a brainwashed with the excuse of not only high demand, but with the ethanol nonsense also destroys your car fuel injection system, hot climate like southern Florida does not really requires it in the gas. Our real issue is more simple than we thought, we have got to stop the majority of our congressmen and senators who are getting paid to listen to Bureaucrats, those guys we call dirty rats in Washington and also get paid for return contracts which are in our disfavor. We don't have the guts like other countries for a big march.

    June 19, 2013 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  5. tom l.

    @Malory,
    I suggest that you take the govt out of the economy as much as possible. More regulations such as what's in the financial reform act don't help. I suggest we get rid of the ACA as this is an impediment to more hiring as costs for the employers have gone up dramatically.
    I suggest that we go to a flat tax so that we can reduce the impact of lobbyists on all of our politicians. That's a start.
    As far as your comment, it has been 5 years. We lost approx 800k jobs for a couple of months but our president has had more than enough time to make that up and actually show a gain in jobs. This is the slowest recovery we have ever seen. The recession ended officially 6-8 months after Obama took office. I could go on and on.

    June 19, 2013 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  6. tom l.

    @Malory,
    And I don't expect job losses to stop dead in their tracks. That would be childish. It is equally childish to not expect job growth at this stage that is necessary for our economy, which is a minimum of 200k-250k jobs per month. You are excusing an abysmal record and then blaming someone else for it rather than the guy in charge. That is odd.

    June 19, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  7. Dave in Arizona

    There's been a perfect storm brewing for years, even decades. Capitalists are becoming increasingly proficient at earning money at the expense of the common man, politicians are increasingly apathetic to that problem, and the people are increasingly ignorant of how they're being taken advantage of.

    We've become a society in which there's the expectation to have certain things in life: health insurance, 401k, even a bank account. But the powers behind those have been perfecting the art of keeping us distant and ignorant of the workings, while siphoning away our hard-earned money.

    It shouldn't come as any surprise. As a culture we've come to define success by a person's amount of wealth. Everything about our system is about personal gain. So naturally when we go to a financial adviser (for example) they're more interested in helping themselves than us–they just have to make us think they're on our side and we buy it hook, line, and sinker.

    And then they somehow con a vast amount of the population into defending them blindly.

    We're on a path to self destruction.

    June 19, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  8. DoNotWorry

    Out of all the people I know, only one is in better shape than before. Even that person (who got a nice promotion) is not making what he would have made in a better economy. I agree with Dave in Arizona: the top is siphoning away our hard-earned money while working hard themselves to keep us ignorant of the process. This too shall pass.

    June 19, 2013 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  9. Keith

    What a joke. Economy is horrible. I have 13 years in the electronic it field and can not find a job.

    June 19, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  10. Keith

    Translation: People know the economy sucks. Same people cannot admit that their false prophet Obama sucks too!

    June 19, 2013 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  11. middle america man

    As much as I like to blame the President when he's a Republican, our economy has problems that go a lot deeper than what one administration does. The middle class hasn't actually had any real gain in income since 2973, except for one year under Clinton. I don't know exactly how to fix it but I do know without a middle class we are essentially a glorified third world country. The top 1% owning more wealth than all of the bottom 80% won't work over the long run. Ask Marie Antoinette about that.

    June 19, 2013 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  12. Sam

    @everyone: I'm seeing a lot of people saying "you can't blame the GOP for obstructing because you'll sound like a baby if you do, and anyway you just can't because those are the rules." Wrong. You don't get to write off Republican obstruction, because it is happening, and you don't make the rules. And your conservative "stop being a baby" routine can no longer silence anyone.

    This republican congress has filibustered more legislation than any other in history. Democrats have a majority in the senate, which has become a de-facto minority because senate Republicans will not respect the results of an election, because they believe the great god Reagan permanently made the country theirs. The GOP is dead set on preventing the president and his party from governing. That he has accomplished anything at all is remarkable.

    That said, Obama has stood by and let Wall St. get away with more evil. Had he been more of a fighter, he could have rallied his allies to his side earlier, as opposed to the last minute when the election reared its ugly head.

    June 19, 2013 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  13. Dean

    Do you know how many have fallen out of the job market or just quit looking?

    June 19, 2013 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  14. Kevin

    All I know is that everyone I know is employed for the first time since 2009 as well as the children of friends & family are landing decent jobs out of college & grad school unlike just two years ago. At that time the graduates were still living at home and if they were working it was as waiters and waitresses, babysitting, fast food positions and retail clerks. My spouse just received a promotion with a nice pay raise. A friend who lives in south Florida told me recently that his kitchen remodeling business is finally doing well. Only two years ago he literally thought he would go under. I am politically independent by the way, I'm neither conservative or liberal but I think there are a lot of people out there who wouldn't recognize anything positive about the president & wanted him to fail from day one. I didn't vote for him in 2012 as well although I did not vote at all but from what I have observed things are a lot better than they have been for the past few years.

    June 19, 2013 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  15. MaryM

    Much better then 5years ago, about the same the last two years

    June 19, 2013 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  16. Selma O.

    Malory Archer:
    "I voted for President Obama but I must have been absent the day they told us where to go for all the "free stuff". Since you know so much about it, where is all the "free stuff"?
    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Lol! So, what you're saying is, you're not as smart as you want people to think are?

    June 19, 2013 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  17. Kurt Hahn

    ECONOMY GETTING WORSE The prospect that the Fed will reduce it's bond buying will dry up the housing market and encourage inflation that thus far hasnot evidenced itself. The built up demand will be offset by the Obama Administration failure ton see the merit in many Republican progrothy policies like their energy initiative. Sadly lack of trust will perminate over other possible initiatives because of the IRS and other scandals.

    June 19, 2013 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  18. Big_D

    People should think about this before they elect the next congress. How many years can we afford nothing done?

    June 19, 2013 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
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