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. Joe Rockbottom

    "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."

    You'll be happy to know, then, that we don't, and never have had a socialist in the white house (unless you think "socialist" means something it does not).

    Vote Republican? You mean the party that wants to cut out all taxes for the top earners, the 2% of the people that already own 40% of ALL the money in the US? The people who want to raise taxes on the 50% of the people who only own 10% of the wealth in the US? Those people? Are you really so ignorant? voting Republican GUARANTEES that the middle class disappears completely, forever. Then EVERYONE will get to work at places like WalMart. you'll be working for the 2% that will then own 80% of the total wealth in the US.

    Get some brain cells. Yours are dead!

    June 19, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  2. Guest

    @Mallory – 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.
    I totally agree with you as I see the restaurants definitely picking up, new cars everywhere, stores being busier. Everyone is going to have their own experience and obviously if you are without a job it is a tough slog, but looking around things are improving. It will take a very long time (if ever) to return to the prosperity we saw in the 90's.

    June 19, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  3. islandivan

    This is a rant, I am personally in the worst financial shape that I have ever been in since I left home at age 17. The decisions from Obama and his minions have had a profoundly negative impact on my entire life. The shuttering of the Shuttle program with no follow on rocket. To the farming out of flying our astronauts on Russian rockets instead of paying Americans to do the job. To his failure to avoid sequestration which has negatively impacted potential employment in either aerospace or DOD government jobs or contactors. These failures just add insult to injury to the job market at least in my area of Florida. The employment situation is abysmal with only senior position openings available or minimum wage options. Having a solid background and a B.S has yielded very little in opportunities even with returning back to college during my continued unemployment and obtaining another degree. The final insult is when you run out of normal savings if you have to look toward your 401K you lose 1/3 of it in penalties and all this through no fault of ones own. Once again Obama and his administration are the single most damning impactors to my life and their departure will be a day of celebration for me.

    June 19, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  4. Anonymous

    Let's see. 401k tanked. House value tanked. Lost job 5 years ago. Taxes up. Dollar worth half. Better off financially? Don't think so.

    June 19, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  5. Malory Archer


    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.


    Right on Lucas! If the minimum wage had increased along with inflation over the last 30 years instead of all $$$ being redistriubted to the top 1%, wages would have increased for EVERYBODY, the fed would be able to collect enough taxes to pay for never-ending wars without having to tap into the Social Security trust fund or running deficits, and we'd all be better off!

    June 19, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  6. BinFL

    @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
    You might want to compare our recovery against many of the European nations that chose austerity. Ours is doing MUCH better!

    June 19, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  7. jillicentix

    The answer to the bad economy is simple, more jobs! Can't pay your bills on one lousy salary, get a second job, get a third job! The lack of free time will help you cut down on utility and activity costs! Complaining that you don't have time to spend with your children, you should thought of that before you had them. Don't expect us to feel sorry for your mistakes. Hate your job? Too bad, suck it up. There are plenty of college grads with thousands upon thousands of dollars in student loans that would love to take your low paying dead end job, for less than you make now! OR you could move to a better area, with better jobs, and a higher general cost of living that cancels out any gains in salary. Upend your family, sell everything you've worked so hard to build over the years, cut all ties to local family and friends. Start over. Sounds like a dream, the wonderful american dream! I'm loving it!

    June 19, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  8. Bill

    I am worse off. Haven't seen a raise in 5yrs. My salary is pretty good at $85K, but taxes and benefit contributions go UP every single year. So, my discretionary spending has taken a hit. My spending money has dropped 30% in the last 2yrs. When I go food shopping, that cost has gone up 20%. Everything keeps going up except salaries!!!! I am able to pay my bills every month without issue, but it looks like my wife and I will not have any children due to this recession. I do not want to bring a child into the world with money issues......I could not afford the increase in benefit contributions + daycare. Not to mention ALL the other expenses a child would bring. A decision I know I will regret as I get older.

    June 19, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  9. Ordinary Average American

    We lost our business in 2010, our house in 2011 and all hope for retirement in 2012 . . . we've been bamboozled by the rich people and banks in America who have been given the "go ahead" to steal our life's work. I've never been so disillusioned and will never recover emotionally from Bank of America refusing to help us keep our only investment, our home. But, they felt it was okay to give our home to a rich guy who offered cash that didn't even cover the cost of building, much less improvements. This is the America we live in today! It's a joke!

    June 19, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  10. Joe Rockbottom

    The key to doing well is getting skills for jobs that don't go away. Like health care. I've worked in health care for 30+ years. Never had a bad year. Doing great. Barely noticed the recession. Salary going up every year. My house lost value, but now it is back up again. No problem since I didn't sell. My 401K went down, but I didn't sell off like a lot of people. Been buying stocks like crazy over the last 8 years – lowest prices in decades. now they are going up, up, up. No problem there.

    You need to tell your kids to get the skills to MAKE the games they play, MAKE the gadgets they like. It is no use just wanting to buy them. You need to learn to MAKE them. If robotics are taking over US manufacturing, then learn to make robots and to program robots. Working at walmart, restaurants, fast food, ain't going to cut it. But for most kids, that is all they are trained for because they think they can skate through school..

    Unfortunately Republicans are anti-education, so many are doomed to being uneducated and having low earning potential. That is the RED states – you know, the Republican ones that already get most of the welfare and subsidy dollars by sucking tax money from the rich states – the Democratic states that value education and and have high earning potential. It's getting so bad that the Democratic states are now carrying most of the load in this country and the Republican states are just sucking teet all day long.

    June 19, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  11. Gina

    absolutely better off because I do not depend on others to make my decisions, I am intelligent and I am healthy. I gained +35000 in the stock market because I made my own decision to stay in while everyone else went crazy and got out , bought a new car, have multiple job offers (maybe because I have an education) – do I believe in Obama – absolutely – is everything his fault – absolutely not – look at yourself – if you are not doing better you need to get with it!

    June 19, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  12. Richard CNN can take an article and paint it in a "positive" way when the data shows that things are bad. 30% barely said things are better, yet you quoted the article as if the other 70% were pleased. You guys will do anything not to say anything negative about Obama and what he has done. How about unemployment??? It's worse than it's been in decades. NO mention of that... you guys are biased.

    June 19, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  13. Doomed

    The only way most people in this country will be better off is if the politicians on both sides of the aisle come together and decided that they should work for the people that elected them, not the people who fund their campaigns. This will never happens since all they care about is getting re-elected. We're doomed.

    June 19, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  14. Eagle1

    The economy is great if you own a pawn shop! Groceries have gone up 30%, gas has gone up 100%, my pay has been frozen for 4 years, health insurance has gone up 30%, and unemployment is at the highest its been since the great depression, more people are on welfare and food stamps than ever beforfe! And CNN has got the gall to ask people is they are better off and if the economy is doing good! This is what you get when people elect a president with no experience, no leadership skills, and no integrity! This has got to be the most corrupt administration ever. Look at the mess this country is in since Barack Hussien Obama took office. May God help us get through these last three years.

    June 19, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  15. Peter

    It is not about 1600 Pennsylvania Ave finding jobs for those unemployed or underemployed, that has never worked in the past and in this global business world it will never work. It is about kick starting your own career path, even if it means having to commute to a new job farther away, accepting a lower wage, or taking a step back to stay employed if that option was available to you. Am I better off, yes I am, despite the tanking of my 401(k), and other financial setbacks both personal and company wide. Get out there and make it happen.

    June 19, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  16. to much to believe

    I like how you try to put a positive spin on it.

    June 19, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  17. eric

    i live in a country that spends more on warfare and military than basically the rest of the world, combined. how can i be any 'better off' than i was prior to this poll's arbitrary start time? we spend more on air conditioning our military than we do on NASA for cryin' out loud. to live in such a state is to coexist with insanity.

    June 19, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  18. Eagle1

    Hey Joe Rockbottom,

    You must be talking about Michigan and Detroit! Detroit is run by Democrats and look how bankrupt they are! Most of the welfare states are Democrat controlled. Just were they want the people! Depending on the government. Oh yeah, hoiws that education working out in Chicago?

    June 19, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  19. Peach

    OMG what world are these people living in? The economy is NOT good........where do these people live that say this economy is "good"????? At BEST it is stalled...

    June 19, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  20. Mel

    I am worse off. I've put in 34 years working now and I can't see where I'll financially be able to retire. I'll be working until I am physically unable. My salary has been the same for 5 years but everything else has increased. I pay cash for everything. I have no cell phone, no cable and no computer (at home) because I can't afford them. I don't have the money to keep paying for everything the government wants to pay for. Digging up Hoffa's remains (which weren't even there). I'm trying to support my elderly parent and myself.

    June 19, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  21. tom l.

    People, when are you going to understand that the government does not create jobs nor does it create wealth. It is so sad to hear people say things like "where's the jobs bills?" as if congress can magically create jobs. They can't. That's not their role nor their purpose.

    Stop looking to and relying on the government and you will be much happier. Self reliance is where it's at.

    June 19, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  22. Dave

    The economy must being doing much better. Obama and his family's next vacation in Africa is going to cost US, the TAX PAYERS, somewhere between $60,000,000 (low end est.) to $100,000,000. Have you noticed how few major vacations the Obama's take in the U.S., thus keeping most all that money in OUR country to help support OUR People?

    June 19, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  23. Steve in CT

    Amazing how the Free Market supporters cry about the government when the free market is not hiring anyone. You need to ask yourself: Are you qualified? A High School Diploma or an Arts degree gets you nothing.

    June 19, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  24. Frank Pall

    Just look how CNN spins this story. They start the story that the negative number is not so negative. Let me help you CNN… Two-thirds of people still think they are not better off than a year ago, only 1/3 says it’s getting better. End of story.

    June 19, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  25. terry

    Economy still stinks!!!!! Still waiting on Obama to wave his magic wand and cure the economy the way he promised in both elections. Alot of things better off under Bush....

    June 19, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
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