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

    The liberal narratives of the Obama cult tells them they're better off. Reality is different.

    June 19, 2013 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  2. Chris

    Uh-oh – a positive news story about the country. That means all the right-wingers will flock on here full of negativity and attacks, p!$$ on everyone's corn flakes, and then finish up by declaring how they are the only true patriots who genuinely love America.

    June 19, 2013 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  3. are122

    Well I thank God I still continue to get work. Some around me are doing better, some aren't. I see things getting worse as Obama care kicks in, hours are already being cut for some.

    June 19, 2013 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  4. Right

    I would think that about 25% of america would think that the economy is good.... no need to work... the government will give you everything that you don't need (big TV, cars, cell phones), and then feed you! All this just because we don't want you to be offended! HooRah! I wonder if the Chinese will let those people just sit around, when they take over this country of deadbeats?!?!

    June 19, 2013 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  5. Get Real

    Um let me think, NO!!!!!!!!

    June 19, 2013 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  6. Bob

    Of course some people are better off. I'm far better off than I was. But the real question is are the people saying yes better off because of any sort of government intervention or is it because they've moved up in their career, got lucky and got an excellent job, etc. It's not as if all opportunity has disappeared, it's simply harder to find. It's inevitable that some people will be better off, and I'm much better off because I finished my education, moved, and am now working hard on progressing in my career.

    The reality is that things HAVE gotten better, but we're still worse off than we used to be. I look at it like this. Let's say you've got a brand new BMW and someone blows your car up and you have to walk to work. Then you get a used 10 year old Chevy. You're better off now than you were when you were walking to work, but it's no BMW. I'll be happy when we a see a return to what we saw under Clinton.

    June 19, 2013 06:58 am at 6:58 am |
  7. Johnjon

    I've said this many times in the last 8 years. I know many people were affected terribly by the recession, but my partner and I had minimal problems during this time, and actually are better off. We reluctantly moved from our home of 13 years in Michigan in January 2005 to Atlanta because of a full year of unemployment. We didn't know what was in store for us and were very scared. Our parents were supportive and tried to reassure us we were making the right decision.
    We held our breath in 2008, but nothing, absolutely nothing happened to the new job or our living situation. When we moved here we wisely chose to rent instead of buying a house. We're still in that house 8 years later and are now looking to buy. We still see lots of construction activity in and around Atlanta. Things are definitely on the upswing. We know others have suffered greatly in the last several years, but friends we know who lost jobs are all employed again. We don't believe the naysayers. We never thought the recovery would take hold over night, and thought president Obama would not be elected to a second term since the American public has the patience of a 3 year old. We honestly think the economy will continue to mend, and are looking forward to the future.

    June 19, 2013 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  8. Steve

    Does anyone really believe that the stock market would be doing so well if any other part of the financial system was healthy. The bond market and interest rates are so low, that the only place to put money is in stocks. The market doesn't have any legs and will suffer if and when the bond market is back.

    We are still operating on Fed dollars propping up the mortgage industry and the sale of bonds.

    June 19, 2013 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  9. Tom Chrane

    This poor economy could be fixed very easily if congress would require corporations that sold goods in the US to manufacture at least 40% of those goods here. The passage of all the free trade agreements has wrecked the economy for the middle class for two decades. We should start electing new members of congress and senate that support this position.

    June 19, 2013 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  10. Eric Darling

    Under 8 years of reckless Republican spending, 2 unfunded wars that will end up costing us $6 Trillion that we don't have and The Great Repbulican Recession that cost 8 Million American jobs, TARP, the Bailout, Medicare Part D & Bush Tax Cuts that were unfunded as well – is it a wonder that we are sinking under $17 Trillion in deficits caused in most part by so-called "Conservatives?" There should be a new moniker for them: "CINO's," Conservatives In Name Only," or let's just call them for what they are: The Party of NO. Since they couldn't win the last 2 Presidential elections, their strategy is to sabotage the President and the Economy, in that order. To that end, is it a wonder that Obama has gotten us back on our feet again after Republicans drove us off an economic cliff? Under Bush, I lost my job. Under Obama, I found a better one in healthcare. Am I better off now under Obama? Heck yes! And in the next midterms, we as Americans need to finish what we started and kick ALL of those ConservaClowns in Congress OUT so we can get a budget and a jobs bill passed.

    June 19, 2013 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  11. John

    Need to strongly focus on long-term unemployed who are age 40+. These are the folks who are struggling the most, many faced with no future, and taking their own lives at an alarming rate! Despicable how we treat these people compared to other countries!

    June 19, 2013 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  12. Vad

    No matter how good our economy appears that huge National Debt hangs like a dark cloud over our heads.

    June 19, 2013 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  13. Grey

    Yeah, were better off... The government knows because your private texts and phone calls tell them that.

    June 19, 2013 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  14. Larry

    Well, let's see...despite all the hoopla, healthcare costs continue to skyrocket. The price of gasoline still sits at nearly double what it was when Obama took office. The number of long-term unemployed is staggering. All this while Obama holds up his hands, much like Kevin Bacon's character in "Animal House" .... Don't Panic! All is Well!!!

    June 19, 2013 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  15. Ant

    My taxes went up 6% last year my pay went up 3% and health insurance doubled . How Am i doing ?

    June 19, 2013 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  16. Scoff

    Still not one of them

    June 19, 2013 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  17. brutemacarthur

    I got a 3% raise so better? lol

    June 19, 2013 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  18. Jay

    Things seem better at the moment, but financially we're worse off, especially those of us who drive 20+ miles to work each day. Gasoline takes a huge chunck of income, and for most of us we can't write it off like others, you're talking almost 300 a month, and yes I do drive a truck, but that is my one vehicle. Property taxes keep increasing every year, food prices are going up, this one drives me nuts because of the federal EBT program. I get a little bag of groceries, and the person behind me with government assistance gets a dang buggy full. I would love to see the government healthcare start measuring those on federal/state programs for obesity, and cut back on their EBT cards.

    June 19, 2013 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  19. McShannon

    I was in the farming business for most of my life and non-profitable years often consecutive were the norm. Expecting everyday to be a bed of roses just isn't how life is there will be bad days, days that we have to regroup and try harder. I can see light peering down through the dark cloud with new industry and jobs returning to American soil. Raising interest rates on college student loans and ignoring that we need a work initiative in our welfare program is disheartening to me as a flatulent Congress makes stink, mocks and does nothing.

    June 19, 2013 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  20. snowdogg

    We're doing OK... my wife lost her job of 32 years, but found another, comparable position in just 5 months.

    June 19, 2013 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  21. king

    well if we can get the repubs law makers to stop looking into women wombs and start makinig laws so that the president can sign we will be in a better place. our country infrastructure is crumbling in front of our eyes. and because of folks screaming about no government and give the volatile corporations all the power to move our country forward, why can we ask the rich to invest in our country's infrastructure by taxing them for the American building fund. hey they are the ones that will reap the benefits anyways because money goes back up the scale.

    June 19, 2013 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  22. nanners

    What a loaded question.

    June 19, 2013 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  23. Walter

    Gee what a surprise, it's a mixed bag in the article, but the headline leads you to believe things are just ducky. The fact is under Obama things are stagnant. And quit blaming Republicans libbies, we're not going away....ever.

    June 19, 2013 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  24. Guygyl

    Better off than GOP regime... Sure. Nation needs to focus on Education, infrastructure, green-energy. NC rethuglicans are horrible–these idiots are cutting all.

    June 19, 2013 07:19 am at 7:19 am |

    Yes, I went from a job paying 11 bucks an hour to an appliance repair job paying 18 bucks an hour. And the funny thing is the 18 dollar an hour job is less stressful and more rewarding.

    My friend went from unemployed for 1.5 years to working in the alarm security industry. He's not making a lot of money, but at least he found a job with health care benefits and is no longer on unemployment.

    June 19, 2013 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
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