CNN Economy Poll: Are you better or worse off than last year?
June 19th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
1 year 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. gary

    I can't speak for everyone, but in 2010 lost my job, reemployed in 2011 (2.5 months after I lost my job) and now make triple what I made.

    So Yes I am way better off.

    June 19, 2013 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  2. cosmicsnoop

    I'm so sick of people whining about the economy. YOU are in control of your destiny regardless of who is in the White House. I admit that the person in charge CAN screw things up for you personally, but it's your deal to overcome it. When Bush wrecked the economy in his second term, my job hours were immediately cut back. It cost me a lot of money, but I sucked it up and got a part time job to cover the losses. I had to work 60 hours to get the pay of 40, but I did it and didn't complain. My wife's job said her pay was maxed out and she would get no more raises. She is 45 so that is unacceptable. She told them to pound sand, went to nursing school, and when she graduated her same employer now has to pay her double her wages. Their ridiculous announcement caused her to do the opposite of what most would do, she showed them that she would indeed make more money. The ironic thing is, her employers would have saved much more money had they given her little raises instead of giving her a reason to go to school and now they doubled her pay. She liked school so much, she immediately went into Graduate School to be a Nurse Practitioner where in a year she will be pulling in BIG money. I am also pursuing a business deal that will set me up well for life. We had the best money year ever last year since we've been married for 20 years. Only you can fix your money deal, not the Gov.

    June 19, 2013 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  3. Frederick R. Freep

    Nobody is better off under King Obama other than big buck contributors, travel agents, hotels, golf courses, and the chronicle unemployed parasites living off the fruits of our labor.

    June 19, 2013 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  4. Jim

    You at CNN are too funny! How far in the tank are you for Obama that you are trying to sell that 33% of Americans are a "growing percentable of Americans" that think the economy is good. Dudes, that means 66% of Americans think the ecomony SUCKS! Stop drinking the cool aid for this hack!

    June 19, 2013 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  5. roger bridges

    I am always amazed by these polls conducted by cnn who are these people you poll for results? even an idiot with no brain could not truthly say they were better off unless they are recieving backing by a federal giveaway. Americans can not even visit the white house anymore unless your invited and flown in and paid by the obammas. here,s an idea for everyone take the people out of these situations and just deal with facts we as a country will be much better off. don't just follow because others are think for yourself

    June 19, 2013 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  6. Gareth Baker

    I am definitely better off than I was five years ago although no one asked me. I think the economy is getting better all the time. My net income is up and I am retired.

    June 19, 2013 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  7. TomInRochNY

    Do you want optimism to shoot up? Convince corporations to pay their employees a decent wage. Nothing makes the average consumer happier than more money in their wallets.

    June 19, 2013 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  8. J'Cincinnati'Redd

    Things would get better for people if they learned how to use money how to handle money And how to spend it. The fundamental difference with the people doing good and the people doing bad is attitude. Folks doing well understand that wealth brings power and freedom.so the do everythin possible to gain more wealth and thus more power and freedom. The folks doing bad,too often seek wealth to have enjoyment,to buy pleasure.there's a big difference between power and pleasure, and since power last longer then pleasure the top 2% have gained control of practically everything. Who is at fault for this? I Know the anwser,do you?

    June 19, 2013 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  9. DPB

    America had their chance...they had an honest candidate who was successful and had a good family. But that was "too good"...successful people are bad...they steal from the poor...So they followed the same clown that told them..."you can have everything you need and deserve...and what is even better you won't have to pay for it...I will make other people give you all you deserve" and even though this clown has lied and lied and lied they love him and cheered as the clown performed..(compromise, transparent medical debates, close the base in cuba, bring all our soldiers home in the 1st year, and the list goes on)...so now...pay the price...as my grandmother told me..."a fool and his money shall soon part"...wave bye bye to it...

    June 19, 2013 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  10. ace1969

    I am a slight bit better off, but this is due to getting up at 3:00 and working 14 hrs a day for up to 6 days a week. It has nothing to do with anything that the "Government" has done to help. Actually the over taxation, including the upcoming bogus healthcare implementation is slowing that growth down. So, thanks for nothing but the lack of sleep and the seldom amount of time I get to spend with my family that I am trying to support.

    June 19, 2013 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  11. MightyMoo

    When you have no debt and spend less then you take in and save money, you are doing well. I am doing well. My country hasn't done well since I was born along with a lot of Americans over the years.

    June 19, 2013 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  12. Samuel Wyndham

    I work every day and do not waste anything. Doing quite well.

    June 19, 2013 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  13. Bill Smells

    I am worse off. It's gotten worse under the Obama administration. They've really done nothing to improve the economy. All of their plans, especially the bailout, was designed by the Bush administration.

    June 19, 2013 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  14. Phucked

    My income and general financial condition has eroded since about 2007. I consider this a direct affect of the US government and their corrupt and ineffective management of the corporate sector. The money spend bailing out banks and corrupt corporations, while lining the pockets of the management of many of these firms, is simply incredible. And, let's not forget the misguided oil wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Perhaps soon we will have our American Spring. Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing some of our politicians cornered and eliminated like that rat Gaddafi.

    June 19, 2013 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  15. charles

    Worst off and getting worse

    June 19, 2013 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  16. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House

    I'll be better off when I can get a raise. But the economy as a whole is getting better no thanks to republicans in Congress. I guess all that JOBS JOBS JOBS talk was a bunch of hogwash.

    June 19, 2013 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  17. bobo

    Worse..... Same pay and now things Cost more!

    June 19, 2013 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  18. Rick McDaniel

    There is no way that anyone is better off today, unless they are the wealthy, who are invested in the markets, which have been doing well.

    No one else is better off, at all, because there are no jobs in America.

    June 19, 2013 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  19. It's Sergeant to you!

    yeah, most Americans can't afford $300 shoes so yes, we are not better off, we are still greedy.

    June 19, 2013 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  20. Lovecrafty

    Yes...mainly because of increasing dividends on my investments and IRA's.

    June 19, 2013 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  21. James Miller

    I'm from Illinois where our Democratically led state never fails to raise taxes, whether it's income, property or sales taxes. I work for the Federal Government and the threat of sequester and furlough days has pushed me to take on consulting work. I'm doing worse financially under Obama then I ever did under Bush, at least the government gave cost of living increases to keep up with inflation, under Obama, we haven't received anything for four years.

    June 19, 2013 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  22. Theresa

    I am much worse off than a year ago, but not due to the federal government, it is due to the poor leadership and stupidity of our state government.

    June 19, 2013 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  23. Josh

    Why do we keep trying to think that Wall Street has anything to do with Main Street? Wealthy people, banks and funds manipulate money that belongs to others and make more money, getting rich. But we don't. If they lose it, we lose it. It has no value to society. Sucks cash from Main Street and yet we try to base economic success on it? It is a craps game rigged for the in guys and should be outlawed.

    June 19, 2013 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  24. Wake up People!

    Well look no farther than the Congresspeople elected in 2010. The GOPT party and their promise of jobs, jobs, jobs. Looks like that was a complete lie since it's been nothing but repeal Roe vs Wade, ACA, restrict voting privileges, obstruct, filibuster, rinse and repeat. Oh and never, ever work with the Kenyan born, secret commie Muslim POTUS turned dictator/emperor......

    Did I miss anything??

    June 19, 2013 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  25. clevercandi

    personally, I am better off. I was able to refinance my mortgage, essentially dropping my monthly payments by almost 30%. I was able to quit my part-time job where I worked 20+ hours/week. We both have full-time jobs that are going strong. I know of a few people who lost their jobs this year; however, they were able to secure employment at the same pay scale (some pay scales actually increased) within 48 hours.

    June 19, 2013 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
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