CNN Economy Poll: Are you better or worse off than last year?
June 19th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
5 years 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. Splinter46

    Am I better off? Darn right. My stocks and 401K have soared. Unemployment keeps moving down. Housing, car sales are improving. And I just got another raise : )

    June 19, 2013 06:06 am at 6:06 am |
  2. rs1201

    The value of my primary residence is down by $130,000 from what I paid. The value of another house I own in NYS is down by $200,000....So, no, I'm definitely not better off.

    June 19, 2013 06:09 am at 6:09 am |
  3. Larry

    Obama's anti business agenda has forced me into a low paying service job and I will never be able to retire. I workied in manufacturing for 31 years and now those jobs are gone.

    June 19, 2013 06:09 am at 6:09 am |
  4. mikey

    what? you are kidding, right?

    June 19, 2013 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
  5. mike Lake Orion Michigan

    $10.00 an hour jobs? You tell me!

    June 19, 2013 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
  6. M.A. Grey

    I find this difficult to believe. I live in a major metropolitan area where businesses are not thriving, unemployment is extremely high and most people are barely scraping by. This is also not "breaking news" at all and seems rather contrived.

    June 19, 2013 06:11 am at 6:11 am |
  7. tif

    Way better off!! Congress doesnt pay taxes...G.E. doesnt pay taxes..the rich dont pay taxes.Oh I get it...dont pay taxes!

    June 19, 2013 06:11 am at 6:11 am |
  8. Natch

    Thanks to the current administration's "Spend our way to prosperity" attitude (especially when it comes to their Royal Vacations every 2-3 months), I think it's fair to say that this country is worse off than we were 4 years ago. Hey dummies, remember that HOPE and CHANGE theme for the elections?? Now we're just hoping for change in our pockets, aren't we? Thanks a bunch!!

    June 19, 2013 06:12 am at 6:12 am |
  9. nc_mike

    We now have hard proof that "A rising tide raises all ships' trash. The stock market, banks, oil and just about every large company is doing stellar and hoarding hundreds of billions in cash, while the average middle class American lost and continues to lose ground. Trickle down theory fully debunked; enjoy that yellow trickle coming down from above middle class defenders of the all-for-business GOP!

    June 19, 2013 06:12 am at 6:12 am |
  10. Ira Radnick

    My wife and I are certainly better off. In the past our taxable income had been in the $140k/year range. Beginning 18 months ago it went to $250k, and this year we have brought in about $200k already, and are on track to hit over $450k for 2013. The only downside is that we will be paying nearly $180k in federal and state income taxes, which amount will be wasted in large part. We are stuffing every bit of cash into tax deferred plans and other investments that we can.

    June 19, 2013 06:13 am at 6:13 am |
  11. mikey

    Why not report the news, or some study about the health of the economy, or the opinion of economists? Presenting a poll as news is a joke and the laziest type of poor excuse for journalism.
    Who care what people think? What about the reality of the situation? I would hazard a guess that 75% of the people responding to this poll spend more time thinking about Candy Crush and their Facebook accounts than they do thinking about the health of the economy.
    What crap.

    June 19, 2013 06:13 am at 6:13 am |
  12. Ollie

    Obama is a curse.

    June 19, 2013 06:13 am at 6:13 am |
  13. dax

    The "Out of sight ,out of mind " works great for Americans

    June 19, 2013 06:14 am at 6:14 am |
  14. Barrack Hussein

    A full 35% of people say after 5 years of my policies, things are better. That is definitely my core group of low information voters.

    June 19, 2013 06:14 am at 6:14 am |
  15. JT

    That's because if we say it's bad, we're afraid we're going to be wiretapped.

    June 19, 2013 06:17 am at 6:17 am |
  16. mikes world

    Wall St and Main St? WRONG !!! Loser dumb low IQ Obama is an incompetent 3rd world socialist banana republic tyrant who knows squat about capitalism and never had a real job.

    This is about Capitalism vs Socialism ONLY !!! 1st world vs 3rd world !! !Heaven vs Hell !!!!

    June 19, 2013 06:19 am at 6:19 am |
  17. Richard Long

    – National debt at 17 trillion, with no signs of slowing down.
    – Unemployment still stagnant at 7.5%.
    – Economic experts using words like 'anemic' to describe the US's economic growth.
    – companies moving to part-time employment models to prevent operational costs due to Obamacare or not even hiring at all
    – healthcare premium rates going up in anticipation if Obamacare...
    – less 'disposable' income due to raise in cost if living (check your grocery bill...)
    Aside from that, we're doing great! Ask us again when the 'Affordable' healthcare act is active...

    June 19, 2013 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  18. Harleigh Kiffer

    That can only mean that entitlements are up and more are willing to accept the big lie.

    June 19, 2013 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  19. Larry

    The only shovel ready job in America right now is digging for Jimmy Hoffa.

    June 19, 2013 06:23 am at 6:23 am |
  20. Marie MD

    Better off (the shrub crashin 2007-2008 was horrible!!) but I know there are others who aren't due to furloughs and small businesses not hiring and the sequester keeping those with less with even less (Meals on Wheels to name just one).
    Of course, the country is still waiting for the rethugs to work on JOBS, JOBS, JOBS instead of taking away women's rights on every level of government or keeping American citizens from voting.

    June 19, 2013 06:24 am at 6:24 am |
  21. Bob

    The economy is not really any better. Job offerings are low, Wall Street stocks are inflated, and gas/food is through the roof.

    June 19, 2013 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
  22. scottbohlen

    No better other than we completed a bankruptcy... but still no job for my wife and only a low paying job for me. Come one USA lets get back to MAKING THINGS!!

    June 19, 2013 06:28 am at 6:28 am |
  23. Ed

    That said, the American public is clearly delusional...

    June 19, 2013 06:28 am at 6:28 am |
  24. dnokc

    Check your bank statement, is your emergency fund from 12 months ago higher or lower? Check the welfare and food stamp status numbers, are they less, the same or more?

    June 19, 2013 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  25. Fred Madden

    For those that have jobs and don't have the time to truly look at Economic Data, yes, they will say they are better off than last year. But for those that are out of work, or underemployed, which a vast and hidden number of people in the US are, no, they are not better off than they were a year ago, and honestly, they may not know it.

    The US Economy is being manipulated to look far better than it really is. Without the true Economy coming back, this farse can only be held for so long... and in many people's mind's, Bernanke has been able to pull this off for 2 to 3 years longer than thought possible.

    We are just a year or two away from a complete Economic Collapse... aka.... The Great Depression times 10.

    June 19, 2013 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
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