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. Sheila

    That all depends on what you DO for a Living !! And what you "qualify" for, in the line of work you are looking for, or if you are already working, or have been working for the last 5 or 10 years, with out being off for some reason or another.

    June 19, 2013 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  2. Sheeples

    Make economic comparisons to the middle of a recession and expect what? 100% approval for substandard gains. I would expect it to have improved for some and remained tepid for others. Now let’s make further economic comparisons so we can see the overall historical economic progress of this country. Now ask for the approval rating. I think the negative expectation is going to dominate and be accurate on this line of postulation. So what is we have with articles like this on a national media outlet other than damage diffusion and skewed statistics. The economy is terribly and precariously unbalanced. The monetary cycle is absurdly dysfunctional and full of misdirection and corruption. The development of economic infrastructure is forever being off shored, manipulated or subdued in one way or another to maintain market control and exclude competition. Yeah it’s great, but it definitely won't win any popularity contests as it continues to falter, while it builds debt and misdirects wealth to the wrong areas of the populace. You may disagree, but my opinion is better than the historical picture by far.

    June 19, 2013 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  3. g

    still waiting for trickle down to kick in

    June 19, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  4. Malory Archer

    John Campbell

    The economy may be growing, however slightly. The real indicator is retail sales.


    Judging by the activity at my local Macy's shoe department on Saturday, the economy is soaring! There are lots and lots of nice new cars on the road – those drivers must be going somewhere. Made dinner reservations for Saturday night – have to sit on the rooftop patio (how awful – being forced to enjoy a panoramic view of Beach Drive and Tampa Bay with my meal) because the dining room is already full.

    June 19, 2013 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  5. davecu

    In a word, NO!
    We're on fixed income which took a big hit when the market tanked.
    Food costs more, gas costs more, maintaining our house cost more.
    We haven't had a vacation in 8 years and this year will be the same.
    Medical and pharmaceuticals cost more.
    Our security has diminished, both personally and nationally.
    We don't care for where the country is going, both nationally and internationally.
    Our politicians have sold us out for the vote, where ever it comes from.
    They have forgotten who they work for and why, supposedly, they fought for the job.

    So I guess you could say, on many levels, we are worse off than before.

    June 19, 2013 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  6. david asleep

    the people who should answer this question, cant afford to be on here or have no computer or cellphone to do so.

    June 19, 2013 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  7. Bobbo

    Must be the entitled and wealthy doing good, never have seen any extra in check, just less, medical premiums up, lifr insurance up, better off dead than alive, economy is dead for retired and working class and eliminating these two classes, IRS is worse than Gestapo, NSA are SS storm Troopers, in NY we raise non masons taxes and confiscate guns, bad news ahead!

    June 19, 2013 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  8. Guest

    @Walter – And quit blaming Republicans libbies, we're not going away....ever
    People like you seem to think Congress has no power in helping the economy and that the President alone can do it himself. Yes, we do blame the Repubs as they have obstructed any jobs bills since Day 1 and unfortunately will continue to do so just to take down this President. They don't care about helping the people – if they can spend all their time and our money on abortion bills and trying to overturn Obamacare then they can certainly pass a jobs bill and other laws that would help the middle class. We will vote out the obstructionists in 2014!

    June 19, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  9. 2014Voter

    Well, there is my personal family economy, which is doing well despite many moving parts – aging parents, retirement savings, young adults needing assistance, etc. Then their is the "big economy" which is getting better as evidenced by the gathering momentum of the local real estate market – new home and commercial properties being built, existing home prices recovering (fewer and fewer mortgages under water). Things are getting better, but could be even better if Congress would stop trying to choke the economy through stupid actions such as the sequester and holding the country hostage over the debt ceiling (you know trying to retroactively not pay for the spending they authorized and appropriated without providing for the revenue stream).

    June 19, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  10. Bobbo

    Obama wanted to have USA same as all others in world, he did it we are no better than a third world country with all the poor and disenfranchised!

    June 19, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  11. MWessely

    JF Spurlock... You blame your mismanagement of your money on the president? It's called accountablility!!

    June 19, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  12. and there you have it

    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.


    Well said rs- we need more people with your outlook, rather than Bubba Buttboy's "I've got mine, to he11 with you"

    June 19, 2013 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  13. ChiTown Gal in Houston

    We voted for the President both times. Our income is significantly higher than it was a year ago and has increased every year since he has been in office. Does it have anything to do with President Obama? Absolutely not. It has to do with our career choices and the fact that my husband works in oil & gas.

    June 19, 2013 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  14. Bluedestiny

    With more on food stamps every day and people getting on the free dole, more are better off? Still, a net 8% worse off. Common sense tells us its worse off, and that's just from a year ago, not the start of this mess that will repeat again when the Feds QE actions stop digging the hole deeper while only delaying and boosting the burst of the equity bubble that's coming.

    "Worse and Directionless" is the headline –
    Gas prices holding up at $4 levels

    Prices up

    Debt up

    Public cubicle worker's comp, benefits, and pensions up

    Infrastructure and roads falling apart

    Quality of education falling

    Energy and utility costs up, and leadership for same down

    Services and benefits, features worse than they were in all sectors

    Food stamp usage up

    Underemployment up

    The next bubble, equity, being staved off for a finite time by irrational Fed actions to drive it deeper for a harder fall

    Absolutely NOTHING being done to make tomorrow better, or our children's future.

    June 19, 2013 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  15. P Cooper

    Yes, I am better off, because last year this time I didn't have a job. Now I do. Just need to have wages that match the cost of living.

    June 19, 2013 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  16. The Real Tom Paine

    Things are better for me personally: I was able to move my wife and children into a house we had built, and I'm earning more money than ever. After years of struggling, it began to pay off. However, I was given an opportunity, and I ran with it as hard as I could: not everyone has had the luck I have had. People have been able to take a bad situation and turn it around due to their own hard work and initiative. Its ironic that many conservatives on here are assigning blame to the President, then touting the virtues of the free market, etc: if you really believe in that, then do it. It can be done. God knows the Right Wing won't lift a finger to improve your odds: they are too invested in destroying this country, instead of saving it.

    June 19, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  17. Wake up People!

    @Mallory Archer.

    Add me to the list. I must have missed the giveaways. Someone else posted last year that Obama voters are getting free cable. I've been begging to find out how since I haven't been able to afford cable since 2009 and I miss the ID and History channels.

    Also if we don't pay taxes, shouldn't I receive my ENTIRE paycheck???

    June 19, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  18. Eric

    Only losers complain and use scapegoating as an easy way out. To those people, thank you for making my job easier and less competitve, because the ones who cry, are no go-geters, which in turn, do not receive the money they THINK they deserve. Your destiny is in your own hands fools.

    June 19, 2013 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  19. TJ

    In this obamaconomy did you expect things to get better? mr. obama isn't taxing the rich. He's taxing the middle-class, which is what all liberals do. I've watched my medical care costs sky-rocket thanks to obamadontcare, along with my script costs.

    The sooner they take this fraud, find evidence of his crime, and convict him (and hopefully put him in prison), the sooner our nation can recover.

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


    Nothing but far left, pro-Obama spin in the interpretation of this poll. The numbers show that 8% (44% worse vs. 36% better) see things as worse. And that the same was true the year before. Things are NOT improving despite all the spin by Obama and the far left media.


    That things HAVEN'T improved for you doesn't mean that they haven't improved for others. Sorry for your luck. What are YOU doing to try to improve your situation? Are you trying to learn new job skills in order to make you a more valuable employee or to apply for higher-wage jobs? I'm the last of the baby boomers, so believe me, I know what it is to be downsized, outsourced and retrained to death, as I've spent pretty much my entire working life doing just that. I'm always taking some course to keep up to date on technology, etc., and somehow I've always managed find a job with decent wages. In the last 25 years the longest I've been out of work was for 6 months, and that was because my husband was transferred by the military to an economically depressed area with higher than average unemployment, but in the end, I did find a decent job.

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


    Obama wanted to have USA same as all others in world, he did it we are no better than a third world country with all the poor and disenfranchised!


    Perhaps you should take a trip to some third world coutries before posting such nonsense. Funny, I remember all the Obama-haters spouting during the previous occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue's 8-year reign of error that the "poor" in America aren't really poor because they have refrigerators. Did President Obama send some goons to steal everyone's applicances? Blast that "librul media" for not reporting on that!

    June 19, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  22. Unclebuck

    Yes, I certainly think the economy is doing better than it was last year. All of the key indicators are good; home sales up, foreclosures down, jobs up, sales up, profits up, stocks soaring, interest rate down, inflation down, ....... But I think these are all short term indicators that Americans thrive on, but are not good long term indicators. Our nation is still deficit spending at a horendous rate. We are borrowing money, and printing money like there is no tomorrow. Our elustrious Congress is acting like friggin idiots and not accomplishing a single constructive thing. All the morons can do is fight over stupid issues like the IRS and Lybia, neither of which will do anything what-so-ever to fix any of our problems. Once the government is forced to deal with the issues of appropriate taxation and deficit spending our Nation, and the economy, will tank! Our current situation is all an illusion..... so no, the economy is not better.

    June 19, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  23. rude

    I am just a factory worker but I am on the road to retiring a millionaire. When Fox and Repubs said the economy was doomed, I put extra into my 401k, NOW I am reaping HUGE rewards.

    June 19, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  24. Brian

    This is just more proof of the disjunction between the "upper" middle class and above vs. the "middle" middle class and below.

    Those who make enough money to afford investment in the stock market have seen fortunes turn for the far better over the last 5 years since the crash. But the majority of Americans, who do not make enough money to have large investments, are seeing their quality of life degrade.

    June 19, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  25. Malory Archer


    Twenty-one years ago when I married my wife our cable bill was $15/month. Now, it's $75/month. Our incomes haven't quintupled in 21 years!


    So get rid of cable.

    June 19, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
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