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. Malory Archer


    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.


    So, did you take the job with the 25% paycut, and why are you ticked at the government for the way a recruiter treated your resume?

    June 19, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  2. Jon

    My work life has improved each and every year I've worked, including this last recession and the one in 2002-2003. The reason is because I took action for myself and didn't wait for the government or anyone else to make it better for me.

    An important lesson in careers in the 21st century: you work for Yourself, Inc. Keep your options open and be prepared for any storm clouds on your horizon. Keep your resume and job skills current, paying special attention to marketable skills. Things may be great at your job today but don't assume that will be the case tomorrow, as the concept of the "company man" and loyalty to employees are no longer as common as they once were. You gotta be ready for the unexpected. As former Intel CEO Andy Grove liked to say: only the paranoid survive.

    June 19, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  3. lady1234

    About the same. We live within our means. I'm a little worried about retirement. Social Security is not in good shape. I won't have the million bucks I would need to live well when I retire. We will really have to cut back when the time comes.

    June 19, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  4. korkea aika

    I'm better off, but don't feel very secure about it.

    June 19, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  5. Malory Archer


    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.


    Yeah, except the shuttle program was slated for closure under the previous occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue's 8-year reign of error with no plans or funding for a replacement. As for the rest of your rant; what college degrees do you possess? Maybe you're not getting a job because employers would rather hire a 20-something for $12.50 an hour than hire a 50-something for $25 an hour. Our illustrious governor likes to pat himself on the back while touting how well the economy in Florida is doing, so perhaps you should ask HIM why you're unable to find a job.

    June 19, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  6. jrzydvl

    If yo believe the GOP, if you believe the DEMS, if yo believe the PTOUS when they say they are going to create jobs, you are simply ignorant of the political process. The GOP can no more promise a rosy future than the POTUS or the DEMS. It takes some semblance of bi-partisanship to get anything done. Until there ar e major changes in the way laws are packaged, debated and voted on, I have no confidence in government. I say semblance because the DEMS had everything(POTUS, House 60 Senators) for a few years and passed nothing, except ACA. Which DEMS were bribed(Nebraska. Mutual of Omaha, Unions) to pass. Which we are finding out is a disaster. VOTE FOR INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE for change!!!....Maybe.....

    June 19, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  7. korkea aika

    I'm better off, but things can change 'on a dime' in this economy.

    June 19, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  8. jperry

    Since we have a Black President no Black person in America has gotten any better off. White people have got promotion but no Blacks.

    June 19, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  9. miss muji

    CNN ..... Nobody believes your dumb slanted polls.

    June 19, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  10. Derwood

    Not better off. Not by a long shot.. Still waiting for hope and change to pay off. What I should have done was get a gov't job. Then I'd be set for life. Too bad I chose the public sector. That seems to be the enemy of our gov't. Got Obamacare driving healthcare costs up and taxes. Got the IRS investigating everything. Got the NSA spying on all phone conversations.
    Orwell was right all along.

    June 19, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  11. Ron L

    Of course it is not getting better for MOST Americans. The truth of the matter is the Republicans are very determined to keep the economy stagnated in hopes that they can use it to win more seats in the Senate and hold on to the House. You need to understand we have about 20 percent of the electorate literally hates the government we currently have. They are mostly Republicans who have been fortunate enough to be moderately successful in life and they THINK they did it all on there own!! They basically want everyone to be on their own and really believe most people who get help from the Government are either lazy or stupid. My proof of this is the Republican party refuses to act on the BUDGET a AFTER complaining for 4 years the Senate had not proposed one, or fight against the passing of the FARM BILL subsidizing wealthy farm owners, large successful companies while it reduces food stamps for the poor, or creating NEW JOBS by REBUILDING AMERICA, being against the HIGH INTEREST on STUDENT LOANS while the BIG banks and get rock bottom rates, or the need to raise the minimum wage by at least $1.00 an hour so full time American’s don’t require assistance from the Government, or the RIDICULOUSLY high costs of healthcare in which hospitals 200 miles apart can have a 60% difference in what the charge for the same procedure but there is no way the consumer can find out until after the work is done!!, THESE are the IMPORTANT issues that require immediate action to improve the LONG TERM health and wealth of America and the Republicans are talking about abortion, and securing the border, getting rid of Obamacare, and IRS scandal that doesn't exist, and the NSA that they helped set up..its pretty sad.

    June 19, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  12. Paladin Knight

    Nope. Unless you are in the top 1% are you better off in this country!!

    June 19, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  13. Pat

    Standing in line to pay for groceries at this morning. Ahead of me, a OCFD firefighter talking to the cashier. "Well it could be better... Haven't had a raise in 6 years." Wonder what he would say about this poll?

    June 19, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  14. Deac

    No. The cost of living has sky rocketed under the Obama administration and will continue too when Obamacare is fully implemented

    June 19, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  15. may40

    I remember back in 2008 of a young Senator who was promising the American people a bright future. Well, let's see most of us are worse off now than when he took office and the deficit has doubled under him. Oh sure, Obama great. Is is 2016 yet????

    June 19, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  16. Realityblowz

    Watching a lot of people around me, and family, getting their hours cut to 28 or less due to Obama care. I fear for everyone come next January when the full extent of this law is implemented. Not good. Not good at all.

    June 19, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  17. downbytheriver

    I'm better off, but mostly because of good decisions and working in a rather recession-proof industry: food packaging. Bc when people get depressed about the economy, what do they buy? Lots and lots of Doritos.

    June 19, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  18. Beth Drucker


    June 19, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  19. Malory Archer


    Standing in line to pay for groceries at this morning. Ahead of me, a OCFD firefighter talking to the cashier. "Well it could be better... Haven't had a raise in 6 years." Wonder what he would say about this poll?


    If he's been on the job for more than a few years, he'd finish his sentence with: thanks to budget cuts forced by taxpayers screaming that they're "taxed enough already, but hey, at least I still have a job."

    June 19, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  20. may40

    Ron L- Are you for real? Yes, blame it on the Republicans...foolish foolish you. Get a little backbone and start dealing with the truth. Your party is filling with nothing but controlling, conniving politicians. Your man in office is taking a 100 million dollar vaca to Africa, do you get it???? On the taxpayers dime. Sometimes I need to realize that it's a waste of time talking to a lib because they don't want the facts and hate the truth.

    June 19, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  21. Guest

    the problem is you can't trust a CNN poll.

    June 19, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  22. nitro

    Yeah, deac, u must be a republican now since u are a pessimist.

    June 19, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  23. MilitaryAF

    Beyond the job-market not being so good for a majority, what has to be considered is the QUALITY of jobs that are out there. Today companies offer little in time-off (PTO), holidays, etc. A scary emerging trend is employers expecting salaried employees to work countless hours of overtime without any consideration such as comp-time, additional PTO, etc. American employers are rapidly moving towards working their employees into the ground for lower pay and significantly lower benefits.

    June 19, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  24. doug

    I'm a retiree who depends on annuities for income and the FED is killing us by keeping the interest rate artiffically low.So I've seen a reduction in my income each of the last three years as the annuities are geared to the FED rate. Not good.

    June 19, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  25. liz

    I would be better off if I were part of the 1% but I'm not so I am just holding my own and if the economy doesn't pick up not even the 1% will be better off.

    June 19, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19