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. ShawnDH

    I'm definitely better off!

    I was laid off from a newspaper job in the summer of 2008 (Bush was president). It took me nearly a year to find another job, but I did. I have a slightly lower salary, but I moved to a more affordable part of the country and I'm so proud that I recently purchased my first condo!

    I have to say, I think it's fascinating that the "personal responsibility" crowd is the first to blame Obama for their financial difficulties (even though the economy has obviously improved since Obama took office). I never blamed Bush for mine but I guess that's what makes me different from them. I actually believe in personal responsibility and they blather about it for ideology and politics.

    June 19, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  2. Aaron

    Been at my company for 11 years. I work in the furniture manufacturing industry. We took a hit in 2009 and 2010, but rebounded. 2011 and 2012 showed excellent growth and this year looks to be the same so far. Somebody's buying our furniture for us to grow so much and I'm way better off this year than last year and the year before. I guess it depends where you work and where you're located. But as far as I go, yes, I'm in a way better place now.

    June 19, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  3. Not-Better-Off

    My paycheck is still the same. My home owners insurance has doubled, my health insurance has doubled, I'm paying almost $4.00 for gas. As long as keep all these worthless politicians in the Whitehouse we will not be better off.

    June 19, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  4. Bobbo

    Many I know lost 401k monies , you have to know when to be in stocks or out, Treasury more stable but low rates, anyone says they are good must be enetitled , which I will now join or wealthy , in between does not exist.

    June 19, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  5. Guest

    that's cause every idea the dems have includes spending more money we don't have. Better yet, raising taxes.


    @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 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  6. dbrock

    I don't think the value of the dollar is what it used to be. I expect two more years of deflation and contraction. But the Fed has done a good job of easing the pain. If the economy tanked completely in 2007 and the Feds and Washington did not step in to help, the ramifications would have been disastrous. So hang in there for two more years and I think we'll all be singing a different tune.

    June 19, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  7. Larry in Houston

    after working in a factory for 28 + years, I decided to go where the Real Jobs are – Ever since I moved from the a "welfare state" – I've been better off, period. I've started my own small business, and working it only part time – with only 2 other part time helpers. + I am drawing my pension from where I used to work – ( from the factory that shut down / sold out / moved overseas.

    June 19, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |

    As long as we have a Socialist in the white house our Economy is doomed. Vote 100% Republican in 2014 and 2016 and defeat Socialism.

    June 19, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  9. Tom

    My wages have been stagnant for the last 5 years, prices on everything are way up, so no, I am not financially better off. I'm in the lower middle class, we bear the full brunt of the economy- we work, get no automatic minimum wage hikes, pay higher prices when the value of the dollar goes down, get no government benefits, and we pay taxes. The latest independent review of Obamacare says that neither healthcare premiums nor deductibles will be affordable for most of the middle class under the new "affordable care act". The partisans like to complain about "no jobs bill" yet they got two stimulus money bills. Each one of those contained enough money to fix every substandard bridge in the US ten times over. If they have a problem with how the money was spent they can go complain to their leaders about their priorities. Just when they don't get a third stimulus bill then they start whining about not having a "jobs bill", pure electioneering rhetoric. They had their chance, twice over, and spent it like drunken sailors.

    June 19, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  10. creek

    i'm always better off. year after year. i could care less who is in charge in the white house. it's understanding the system and working smartly within it. this is america and even in our darkest hours there is always opportunity. because even in our darkest hours we are still light years ahead of pretty much every other country in the world.

    June 19, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  11. Bob

    Sorry, I no longer have any faith in any poll that CNN does. 1000 for a poll like this think about it: How many states, How many cities, How many people. CNN pretty much proved, along with other polls, that polling is no longer a viable method to predict anything during the last presidential election. Better to put the poll on-line in every state and use that.

    June 19, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  12. betterdays

    I'm trying to enjoy the last year my health insurance costs are unreasonable, before the Affordable Care Act fully kicks in and they promptly go from unreasonable to unaffordable. However, my house's value seems to be recovering (somewhat).

    June 19, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  13. Snarky MacFee

    Sorry, I had to pause to laugh hysterically. Do you really need a poll for people to tell you that if they are under a certain tax bracket their financial prospects did NOT improve over the past 12 years?

    June 19, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  14. The Real Tom Paine

    If there are people out there who's sole purpose in life is to blame every misfortune in the world on the President, get a life. Your future is in your hands, not Obama's, not Boehner's, not Reid's. Jobs are created by demand, not tax cuts: go out and create the demand. Every situation provides people with an opportunity if they have the courage to grab it and run with it. We have no shortage of people willing to work hard in this country, so if you are down and out ( and I was 6 years ago) do something about it. All the preaching from the usual suspects on here about Obama-supporters being drug-addled, etc: please. We are running with the opportunities we have been given to make money and realize our dreams. Think outside the box. I'm doing a job I never dreamed I would have, and I'm kicking butt and making good money. At the same time, I'm preparing for the next opportunity to come along. Its a question of being able to adapt to changing circumstances: I was underemployed at one point for over 2 years, but I never stopped looking, never took unemployment. It can be done.

    June 19, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  15. kenman

    "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."

    Yes, SO much has improved since December! Pure political propaganda, attempt.

    June 19, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  16. Guest

    @anoel2005 – the current administration has never had JOBS on the agenda.
    Another one who lives in the Faux News bubble. President Obama has had a jobs bill out for over 3 years but your Repub/Tea Party obstructionist won't vote on it and certainly won't pass it. Jobs can be created very easily by improving our crumbling infrastructure throughout the country which is going to very much catch up to us and it will be too late then.

    June 19, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  17. Matt

    Worse. and its going to get even MORE horrific as this Obamacare abortion happens. The premiums are going to be sick ~ the only redeeming thought is that the people in NY and California ~ Your premiums will be the highest in the country to support all the freeloaders in your states. Good luck paying 400% more than you do now.

    June 19, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  18. sjb

    In the time Obama has been in the office, I have earned two master degrees. One in business administration and one in public administration. However I can not find a full time job, even a low paying job. In contrast to when Bush was in office, I was hired into positions I was not qualified for because I had a bachelors and the unemployment was low. So no I am NOT doing better now than I was four years ago.

    June 19, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  19. august

    Malory Archer
    To add to that point, cable 20 years ago is a far cry from the 100+ channels, HD, and On-Demand. I would expect that to cost more even when accounting for inflation adjusted dollars.

    June 19, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  20. Guest

    After a year I am still at a job I was only supposed to be at for 3 months, and the first of this year my pay doubled. This is the best off I have ever been. Someone is doing something right.

    June 19, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  21. wade

    America is at her poorest since 1962 how in the world could CNN not know that?

    June 19, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  22. Malory Archer


    I don't think the value of the dollar is what it used to be.


    Compared to what? The dollar has increased over foreign currencies the last couple of years. Granted, the cost of everything has increased but as the cons liked to say during the previous occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue's 8-year reign of error, that's just market forces at work, doing what they're supposed to do.

    June 19, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  23. Lucas

    This is what happens when you attempt to "re-distribute wealth." The rich can't create jobs, the poor become dependent and innovation and production are stifled.

    June 19, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  24. Malory Archer


    Worse. and its going to get even MORE horrific as this Obamacare abortion happens. The premiums are going to be sick ~ the only redeeming thought is that the people in NY and California ~ Your premiums will be the highest in the country to support all the freeloaders in your states. Good luck paying 400% more than you do now.


    The state of Florida plans to opt out. However, the rethug legislature and governor have recently passed legislation that allows insurers to increase premiums on all policies purchased after the 2010 passage of ACA – and they ADMIT they're doing it because they want Floridians to "hate Obamacare" – despite the fact that THEY'RE NOT PERMITTING FLORIDA TO PARTICIPATE!

    June 19, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  25. Staffan

    I am definitely better. Not making as much as when BofA let me go but being cautious about spending and continuing with saving I am doing well. Would I like a new car? It would be fun. Do I need a new car? Nope. Gave up short term thrills for long term goals a long time ago.

    June 19, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
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