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. RettasVegas

    Not better off, but no worse off.
    Still think no matter who was president it was going to slowly get better, and the nation as a whole has.
    Voted for Obama twice, no regrets, he represnts what the majority of Americans want and I would vote for him a 3rd time if I could.
    Sooo...fed up the the GOP, it's not your proud parents party anymore, people, that's for damn sure.
    They are too extreme, and pander only to their base, which is Loony-Toons.
    I was a republican for 30 years (3rd generation) but RAN from the party when in 2008 they went off the deep end and never came back!

    Independent voter

    June 19, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  2. smc

    The reality is that Romney was promising to make the federal deficit even worse than it is under Obama, but Republicans believed the opposite about that too.

    Anyhow, last year I made more $$$ than ever before in my life, and while this year I took a job I enjoy more that pays a little less, I now have offers for more work coming in left and right. As someone above apparently said, "get the skills to survive in the 21st century! Educate you kids! Health care and technology is the future."

    The Bush/Republican nose dive of the last decade is long over. If you're not back on your feet, you're the one who is doing something wrong, not Obama.

    June 19, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  3. b0bc@t

    Kids don't work because there are few jobs to go around....
    People can't afford college without a home equity loan mortgage from their parents... or debt to lst twenty years ...
    people go to the doctor when they have to, since the out of pocket cost is extreme, three or four bills from each hospital department, each with a co pay or patient responsibility, including covering kids until 26 years old, since they have no income of their own, insurance companies set price, availability and patient outlay, and surprise – we get screwed
    If you are not an executive , or two income household, you have to work multiple jobs to keep up with expenses ....

    The future's SO Bright I have to wear Shades!

    June 19, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  4. Rudy NYC

    Not only am I better off, and I'm also feeling better about the future.

    June 19, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  5. B

    the one and only reason we havn't recovered is Obama care. plain and simple. employers will never more than 49 employees and if they do hours are going to be cut to 29 per week. call them what you want, but it makes business sense. until the rules change, they won't hire. we would have been booming 5 years ago if obamacare didn't exist.

    June 19, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  6. BuddyGC

    So what they are saying is they keep reading news reports that the economy is getting better....

    Which if you go by the Dow, the rich are getting richer

    Nice job Barak, Mitt would be proud

    June 19, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  7. John

    I went from a job that paid $69.71 per hour to a new job that pays $94.41 per hour, so I feel a little better off.

    June 19, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  8. Locco

    Better off? NO WAY! When the company I was with closed down, I was offered a new position with a new venture with the same owners....with a 25% pay cut. Finding a new job in this economy is almost impossible. I posted a resume yesterday and received an email less than a minute later that I was not qualified. There is NO WAY a recruiter even looked at my information in that amount of time!! This government is a joke....nobody knows anything about the real struggles we face.

    June 19, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  9. Raul

    Better but not because of anything else. It is because of the lesson we learned during the economic downturn which is Do Not Spend What You Don't Have! made my financial situation manageable...

    June 19, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  10. Pam from Iowa

    No better nor worse.
    As far as jobs go, I am sitll waiting for all those jobs the GOP promised when they won back the House in 2008.
    Those of you who are unemployed should be calling Speaker of the House Boehner and ask him why he has not fulfilled that promise.

    June 19, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  11. scarface0040

    If you were to slice open a banker, would money come pouring out?

    June 19, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  12. Kevin

    The only reason I am better off? It is because of what I have learned from the economic crisis and to not spend more than what you dont have. It has nothing to do with the government.

    June 19, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  13. Tech in TX

    I went from a software/systems engineering position that paid ~$40 /hr to one that pays ~20/hr... I am worst off.

    Thanks Odumbo for the BOHICA

    June 19, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  14. mightyduk

    The corporations are doing grea!t....record profits for many. However the wages of the average worker are not keeping up. So accept the fact that several million people will still qualify for public assistance while executive compensation continues to rise.

    June 19, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  15. Hillary the Skank going to Prison

    can't get much worse so there you go. a depression is a depression. thank you Bill and Barry for this wonderful downturn. You've clinched your spot in the communist hall of fame.

    June 19, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  16. Abbey

    Better? LOL !!

    June 19, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  17. BB


    June 19, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  18. Ann Terhune

    My husband and I are better off. Our retirement funds and investments are higher than they ave ever been and our house is worth more. Houses are selling so fast there are few on the market. Prices are up. We refinanced our mortgage and have a great rate. We still have health insurance. We are taking a big vacation this year and I bought a new car. School teachers need a raise and the city cut a lot of people, but people are spending money. I believe the Fed and the stimulus saved the economy but we should have had a larger stimulus.

    June 19, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  19. Ann Terhune

    My husband and I are better off Han we have ever been. I bought a new car and we are taking a big vacation this year. Investments are higher than the have ever been,

    June 19, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  20. Kevin

    Pam what about all those jobs Obama promised? He pushed his jobs bill for a while and then backed down? Dont just place the blame on the GOP only..Blame lies on both parties..

    June 19, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  21. NYYFan1

    Guess I really cannot complain – Living in a 100% paid off luxury two-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,050 square-foot condo (of course, with the exception of monthly condominium assessment fees + annual property taxes), my automobile loan is paid off 100%, my credit cards are paid off 100% monthly and my student loan is paid off 100%. I currently have in excess of $610K saved and earmarked for retirement ($365K in tax-deferred and another 245K in taxable savings), I am almost 52-YO and intend to work until I am 65-YO, (provided I continue to remain fit, slim, trim and healthy).

    This so-called "Great Recession" did 0% damage to my "nest-egg" and I am loving life to the max – (I have my funds solely wrapped up in capital preservation investment options, and although the ROI has been dismal these past few years, fortunately, for me, I have been averaging 3-to-5% returns on both my tax-deferred and taxable investment accounts for the past 4.5+ years...)...

    No complaints here...

    June 19, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  22. Boomer in Mo

    For some reason, my state income tax withholding went up $7 a week this week. Otherwise, I've been stuck in the same place financially for about a decade. Still, I'm better off than most people with no mortgage and considerable saved for retirement, just not enough saved.

    June 19, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  23. Professor Hammbone

    Sounds like some kind of joke....better off. I guess it has to do with relativity. Am I better off than three years ago which was still poor....wage stagnation, crumbling benefits, rising cost of living, etc. I see none of this getting any better. Are you better or just getting used to be poorer????? Nothing of significance has changed. Obama's direction has been misguided and uninformed. He is more concerned with political moves and his legacy rather than making tough decisions. He's a weak leader and a socialist nuisance. The sooner we rid the WH of him the better. Hope the next leader has a spine and willing to tell the American public what we are up against and not trying to sugar coat a deplorable situation to boost approval ratings. Real leaders will sacrifice themselves repeatedly for the good of the group. He hasn't done anything great. He has been nothing but mediocre.

    June 19, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  24. stowyle

    I'm actually better off now than a year ago, that wasn't due to the bozo in office though. You want more money? Live within your means, stop charging up your credit cards and drowning yourselves in debt, and most importantly, stop whining about what a political figurehead can do for you, and go do for yourself.

    June 19, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |

    Just buy american made. If americans did that we would all have jobs!!

    June 19, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
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