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. elucidated1

    Remember how the Republicans and Fox pundits told everyone that if we raise the taxes on the "job creators" they will stop hiring and it will hurt the economy? Well, this week, the wealth of the top 1% increased more than ANY other group in the United States. So much for GOP credibility. But it was a nice try that only stupid people believed. And was one reason it cost them the election.

    June 19, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  2. Brad

    My gross pay hasn't changed in years (up or down), but my net has decreased steadily over the past 5 years, to the tune of almost 300 per paycheck. I was already struggling back then, but expenses have gone up. The only reason I'm able to stay afloat is because I have no debt.

    June 19, 2013 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  3. Brad

    My pretax pay hasn't changed in years (up or down), but my net pay has decreased steadily over the past 5 years, to the tune of almost 300 per paycheck. I was already struggling back then, but expenses have gone up. The only reason I'm able to stay afloat is because I have no debt.

    June 19, 2013 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  4. teaparty days are numbered

    i have taken a 15,000 dollar a year paycut from big oil ,namely phillips 66 from last year, go figure a company that makes billions of dollars a QUARTER and they cut a hands on workers salary.

    June 19, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  5. Todd

    "Call it a mixed bag."

    Are you kidding? When 2/3 of the country say the economy is worse and you call it a "mixed bag"? Are you so drunk on the Kool-Aid that you can't be honest with yourselves as a news outlet?

    CNN has become one of the Emperor's advisors as he unveils his new clothes. I don't know that I can trust what you put out.

    June 19, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  6. Carrie

    Until someone gets sick then you can lose everything, see it all the time. So is my family better off no, jobs are not secure healthcare cost or crazy and I pray no one gets sick.

    June 19, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  7. Jim Letellier

    Its the policies of Corporate Greed and the politians (Mostly republicans) that have allowed it to happen. Unless this changes and so called Americans (real business leaders) start to REALLY care about thier country again we are doomed.

    June 19, 2013 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  8. Furby

    My salary has dropped by 15% in the past five years. I have remained in the same industry, gotten more responsibilities, duties, and authority – yet my salary has dropped by 15%. This is not a mathematical game where I am factoring inflation – this is a flat out my salary was X in 2008 and now it is Y in 2013 where Y is 15% less than X. If we factored in cost of living increases (that I did not get), inflation, etc then it would be worse (assuming 2% per year cost of living increase, that's roughly 10% additional loss).
    I still rate the economy as better now then it was last year.

    June 19, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  9. Furby

    Also, for those of you who think the economy is worse of – try and separate your life from the economy. You may have lost your job, but that doesn't mean the economy sucks, it just meant you lost your job. It may have nothing to do with the economy (even if it was downsizing).

    June 19, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |

    Worse off!

    June 19, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  11. Malory Archer

    Patrice Ferris

    Realy a survey of 1,014 adults nationwide? Do you understand the what the population of the United Stated consists of? This is not a statiscally significantsurvey. I wish you would stop publishing the results of insignificant surveys.


    In other words, the facts don't fit your narrative so the results are insignificant.

    My family is a bit better off. Both my husband and I managed to hold onto our jobs, and we both received a small increase. Granted, our property insurance and electricity bills have increased, but those increases can be laid directly at the feet of our illustrious governor who does his best to stick it to Floridians while feathering the nests of Conglomo, Inc.

    June 19, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  12. JRNY

    I am better off than I have been in years. And things are better now because of President Obama. The end.

    June 19, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  13. George

    I'm doing great financially. All of my retirement investments are mature and I'm enjoying spending them. I guess I'm also helping the economy by pumping more money in.

    June 19, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  14. Seyedibar

    Much better. I hear a lot about a weak economy, but someone forgot to tell all the people rushing to give my business their money.

    June 19, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  15. william Poole

    I Don't see how the economic conditions right now are good. Everything is high priced, we are still in Billions of dollars in debt. There are Millions out of work, crime in any major city is still going up. people are still losing their homes, their are thousand upon thousands of families still homeless. Now if the economic conditions right now are good, why are they still cutting medicare? We don't have the money to continue with medicare. The people who believe that the economic conditions right now are good are the one's who have money, plain and simple. There are millions in this this Country are still in poverty level. A normal single income in the US is around $21,000 a year.

    June 19, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  16. TLORop

    I was better off. Until the sequester hit me. Now I'm working only 65 hours a month and I lost my insurance. And no I dont blame Obama.

    June 19, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  17. SC

    Yes. And I'm tired of people saying Obama did nothing for the economy. If you believe this, you clearly are in an alternate universe.

    June 19, 2013 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  18. Jim

    I'm better off. I'd have said I was better off during the last administration too. You can't always control what happens to you but you can usually decide not to worry about it. Every year I learn a few new things, so as long as I'm not eating Haitian mudpies and I don't have a crack addiction, the net is positive.

    June 19, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  19. rs

    Better- thanks for asking. The resurgent Stock Market has essentially cleaned up the 401 (k) and other fund losses from Bush crash '08 (yeah, I know it would have been bigger if that hadn't have happened in the first place- but up is good). I got a raise (first in 6 years). Home is paid off as are the cars. So, not bad.

    I didn't do as well as the Republicans 1%- ers, who now own about 90% of the wealth in this nation (pretty amazing fact all things considered). My income certainly didn't rise 33% during the same period, and I still pay way more in taxes as a percentage of my income. But hey, America was always built on the backs of the middle class. I would rather be a part of that crowd than make my living from the poverty of others.

    June 19, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  20. Val

    I am much better off this year. I took a 20% pay cut four years ago and just got a job which pay me what I was making before the cut.

    June 19, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  21. NameJohn

    Let get this right now you take a poll of 1014 adult and that supposed to tell you how well every one is during you have one of your political editor put his name on a report. That same editor and other should be telling the American people how the Vet being taken care of by Gop &Dem in this country cause a lot of Federal workers are Vet now since they not in the services shooting at anyone for a war they put them into.

    June 19, 2013 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  22. Bubba Butchroy

    I've got more than I ever had. But then I don't spend much and made lots of money on the stock market this year. If Romney had won, the DOW would be 17,000 and Unemployment would be 5% or less and everyone but freeloaders would be better off.

    If the Democrats retake the House, the economy will crater just like the last time they had power.

    June 19, 2013 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  23. rs


    the current administration has never had JOBS on the agenda.
    By that you must mean the Republican Controlled Congress- No jobs bills in 5 years! You're right, a good economy is certainly not a GOP priority. Funny how Obama's economy (wrecked by his predecessor) has made more jobsover the last 5 years than Bush's did BEFORE the crash of '08.

    June 19, 2013 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  24. The Right Left

    AS a business owner, I realized the recession/depression was over for my company starting third quarter of 2011. The growth has been steady and positive. I am bullish about the next five years.

    Keep the GOP out of the WH and Senate and kick the clowns out of Congress. Michelle Bachmann is bailing out. Get rid of Louie Ghomert and his ilk.

    June 19, 2013 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  25. Malory Archer


    the 44% are all Taxpayers. Obama voters are still on the take and getting their Obamaphones and FREE stuff. so they are going much better.


    I'm an Obama voter. I must have been absent the day of the welcoming seminar. Can you direct me to the line where I can get my "Obamaphone" and other "FREE stuff"?

    June 19, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
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