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. Taroya

    The problem right now is employers.
    1. They have us over a barrel, and they KNOW it.
    2. Because of this barrel of an economy, you will take any job you can get. Incl. the pay cut.
    3. Gov't workers haven't had a raise in 5 years.
    4. Where once I was hourly, now I am salaried. I get to work the same hours, I just don't get paid for them now.
    5. No one told the landlord that salaries have either stagnated or been reduced; my rent still goes up.
    6. Everything else has also gone up in price.
    7. The only part gov't plays in this right now is that ALL OF CONGRESS are either lawyers or CEO's. Corporate is making MORE PROFIT than they ever have, and that includes congress critters. That means that 1. they really don't get it, 'cause they already got it. 2. They are in it for a profit for them, and screw everyone else so long as they have theirs.
    8. We can expect this to continue, thanks to SCOTUS and CU, because real Americans can't afford to run for office
    9. As long as employers feel that they can make employees work longer hours for less pay, they will continue this template, and they will continue to make buku profits.
    10. I still have to pay rent, and I am now paid less than before.
    Let's go round robin.

    June 19, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  2. Jon Burns

    Being on 100% VA Disability for 4 decades, I can say I am just as poor now as I was 40 years ago, maybe a little worse off. Can't buy nothing cept needed things to live on.....Food, Bills, Gas and Car payments leave me about a $1 a month to live on.

    June 19, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  3. Florida Space Coast

    Unfortunately, my area of Florida has been doing very bad the past few years. This year being no exception. We really need more jobs. NASA was geared down quickly along with several other DOD jobs leaving thousands of engineers (good paying jobs) out of work along with all of the employees/businesses that supported them. Real estate is starting to go up but we still have a glut of foreclosures and shortsales. Good thing we still have the beautiful beach and constant sun because living without a job or working for minimum wage sucks!

    June 19, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  4. omeany

    Imagine that! After being swindled by the rich banks and having our wages kept stagnant by our corporate employers (while they're seeing record profits) we're still suffering financially.

    The corporate greed in this country is out of control. If the economy is to improve them we need less corporate profits and a better living wage for the ground troops that produce the goods and services that create the wealth.

    The only blessing in this senario is that Mitt Romney didn't become President otherwise, things would be much worse for the average Americans.

    June 19, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  5. Susan kosharek

    We are definitely better off. The stock market is up, our home has gained in value and we don't have a Republican in charge to take us down. I agree with the person who said "get the skills to survive in the 21st century! Educate you kids! Health care and technology is the future." I don't know how anyone can call Obama a socialist when the stock market under his guise is doing so well.....that's called capitalism, my friend! Get out your dictionary.

    June 19, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  6. Rick

    Nope, no better off here. Nothing will improve until real jobs that pay decent wages are readily available. And if our government would actually do something to rein in the oil companies and their greedy ways, that would help even more.

    June 19, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  7. Rick

    Eagle1, you got it right. Hit the nail right on the head.

    June 19, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  8. dialogos68

    One year? How about four years? Oooops, that might make obama look bad. And we know CNN doesnt want that!

    June 19, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  9. Penelope

    I am a recruiter and have seen a large increase in jobs. Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of people with the skills needed to fill these roles. If you aren't in the technical industry, get in it NOW.

    June 19, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    We moved to Texas from New Jersey to escape the high taxes and bad economy. Now we both have jobs paying less. Still, I am happy that we both have jobs. But are we financially better off? Only in my dreams. And, we are saddled with student loan debt and fears about saving for college and retirement (we've curbed our saving plan due to our lower income). Our fresh start in Texas is going to be a slow crawl towards better financial circumstances.

    June 19, 2013 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  11. dialogos68

    Look at cluess people using the stock market as evidince. Wall street is rigged and artificially inflated because of QE3 (where the Fed is giving 85 billion a month to buy bad dead from the Wall Street banks.) This artificially causes another bubble that will eventually burst.

    June 19, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  12. John The Electrician

    Business is slowly improving and when people buy things they can't finance as much so it forces them into things they can actually afford. So it is getting better, but too slow if you ask me. Congress is focusing like a laser beam on–wait for it-still waiting.

    June 19, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  13. TheBigT

    Our government added 500,000 new jobs last year which was MORE than any company.
    Talk about smaller government, they LIE.
    I am worse off than last year and my money doesn't go as far as it use to.

    June 19, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  14. NY Repub

    This is why it was so important for the House GOP to try and repeal the Affordable Care Act 37 times and pass Abortion bills. This will so help the economy. Unfortunately the Highway Bill, Imigration Reform and Infrastructure improvements keep getting inthe way.

    June 19, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  15. JayDavid

    We're fine, so the question is irrelevant. But thanks for asking.

    June 19, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  16. TexaSam

    President Obama's Jobs Act has been sitting on Speaker Boehner's desk since 2011. The Republican led House leader refuses to allow it to be debated or come up for a vote.

    Anyone complaining about jobs today needs to contact their REPUBLICAN representative to ask them why they are voting for the 39th time to ban abortion, rather than debating the JOBS bill that they've ignored for 3+ years now.

    June 19, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  17. Canes

    In responses to Susan kosharek...the reason the stock market is up is because the the FEDs are doing 2 things. They keep pumping money and keep the interest rate low. This allows individuals and company with large amounts of cash to invest in the stock market. most economists say there is large gap bewteen the stock market and economy. The econmy is still sluggish and no where hear where it should be. Second home values are going up for the same reason the bubble burst. Investors, which again with lots of money and low interest rate are buying homes and sitting on them to continue to raise the value. All in which Obama has done little to nothing to help the economy.

    June 19, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  18. Dave

    @ Susab kosharek – The median household income has continuerd to decline since 2008. The mega wealthly are doing much better, but not the average/median American household. The Stock Market is still approx 7% below where it was in Oct 2007, when adjusting for inflation. Annual average fuel prices hit records highs in 2012, beating 2011 as the next highest annual pricing, and we are today paying approx 3.5%- 4% more for gas than we did on this day in our annual average record braking year of 2012. With the median family income actually decreasing, and fuel/food and other prices increasing drastically, this hurts the middle-class much more than a overly simplified analysis would indicate. For the median family, we are not doing better under the current admin. Hopefully people see and remember this come Nov 2014 and Nov 2016.

    June 19, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  19. V

    Soon Obama will make us all Zimbabwean zillionaires.

    June 19, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  20. coderjones

    why is human life based on the amount of money you have or the taxes you can pay?

    June 19, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  21. TheBigT

    In response to Susan kosharek....

    Please realize that the ONLY reason the stock market is going up is because your president is making sure to dump more money into it with federal reserve funny-money. It is WAY over-inflated and within the next year more than likely will see a crash far worse than anything this country has ever seen.
    Your government is also trying to push through bills that will rob you of your 401k/IRA and help to pay the debt. They will then put you on a Government Run Retirement plan. Go look up the bills hb5337, sb1234, s2010 as examples. You will never see your money again.

    June 19, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  22. scarface0040

    The only thing that will make the economy better is to start over with an entirely new currency that is based on a tangible asset. But even that won't help if we do not get rid of the cancer in the current system. what I mean by that is the central bankers and their shareholders/owners, the big private banks like goldmansachs, bank of America, wells fargo, HSBC, jp morgan, and many others. I think we should charge the head CEO's of these banks with financial terrorism, fraud, conspiracy, money laundering, and many more charges. That will never happen though. The tentacles of the financial Oligarchs reach quite far into our government. Hell, they pretty much have complete control over it. Like I said, we need to kill the cancer b4 we can advance. The current halls of justice are painted green with lots of money talking, and who controls the production of money? the banks do. What I'm saying is that we the people are gonna be the ones that have to kill this cancer. We cannot rely on the government this time. We have been sold out by the very people who are supposed to protect our interests. Its high time we take matters into our own hands. Citizens arrest these CEO bankers and try them for high treason. All of them. Freeze all their assets so they don't have any wiggle room to buy off the judge, jury, and prosecutor. What is the penalty for high treason? Death. Lets make a lasting example out of these crooks. Take the assets they have stolen and use them to rebuild our economy.

    June 19, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  23. cleveland

    Yes I am better off financially.
    It does not do any good if everything in the world costs more. gas, food, insurance, bills. TAXES.

    It just negates what ever raise or pay increase I might receive... makes it pointless really...

    oh thanks for the raise, this MIGHT cover my property tax increase 😦

    June 19, 2013 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  24. Reserve

    You also have to look at the private sector – I am truly thankful for a job, however, pay raises have not been very good. And with the cost of everything going up, my raise was eaten up by escalating health care costs. When the smoke had cleared, I only had a $5 difference after the raise.

    June 19, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  25. Malory Archer


    Our government added 500,000 new jobs last year which was MORE than any company.


    Credible source please?

    June 19, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
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