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

    I am quite better off than I was, but no thanks to anyone but myself. It started with dumping all of my debt. Learning to live without credit cards. Paying both of my cars off, and keeping them and maintaining them myself, rather than buying another new one. Started buying everything used, but much higher quality. (I'd rather have a 10 year old Volvo, than a new Chevrolet. Better to buy a 5 year old, used Giant brand bicycle than a Wal Mart piece of junk), Craigslist is a blessing. I have never bought a bad item from Craigslist, saves me more than half the cost, and avoids sales tax. Oh, and thank god for having several skill sets that are in demand. CASH. Once I realized that there was no shame in not participating in this failed, rigged system, I started doing much better.

    June 19, 2013 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  2. crookedarm

    "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." Really?

    June 19, 2013 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  3. Jopa

    We are still in a recession, artificially supported by the Fed

    June 19, 2013 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  4. onlyfacts

    Consumer confidence will continue to be low as long as millions worship Fox "news" gloom & doom.

    June 19, 2013 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  5. People are Out Of Touch with reality

    lets see, cut in pay, cut in hours, no raises in years, lets just say that I was better when Bush was in office because the wanna be dictator obama spends money on wasteful trips like to africa while others of us live pay check to paycheck....take back America

    June 19, 2013 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  6. Tragoudi Arpa

    No, I'm definitely worse off than last year, and I don't see things really changing for the better this next year. There is a lot more inflation than the CPI admits to - when I go to buy things and prices are 25% to 50% more per item with less product/less quality that's not better. Gasoline up to $4.30/gallon is not better. Having to pay hundreds and thousands of dollars more every year for less and less health care coverage, and even more with Obamacare is definitely worse. And stagnant raises at work are way worse because any 2-3% wage increase is consumed 4 times over with the increased premiums for health care. Everyone else can raise their rates/charges for products except me. After many years of "doing with less" we are now "doing without" and hope is crumbling that things will "get better."

    June 19, 2013 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  7. anon

    not even close. Our household income is down 50% since 2008.

    June 19, 2013 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  8. ST

    The right question to be asked is: Are you better off or worse off than you were since Pres. Obama took office 2009? Asking about last year doesn't make much sense, as Pres. Obama didn't start working on economy since last year.

    June 19, 2013 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  9. Chris

    I don't get paid anymore....so no

    June 19, 2013 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  10. EVN

    Yack masquerading as analysis about a poll the questions of which are not disclosed. Pretty useless, except to create a page for advertisement that no one reads.

    June 19, 2013 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  11. fayray11x

    exactly why does it take a poll to see the OBVIOUS? generally speaking the economy was been getting worse for everyone but the rich since the 1970s.

    June 19, 2013 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  12. DC Johnny

    With interest rates perpetually and historically low, we should be seeing more bang for the buck than we are.

    The truth of the matter is that our economy isn't keeping up with inflation, just as our employment levels are not keeping up with population growth.

    Our financial outlook may appear stagnant on the surface, but it is dismal in the long run. There is no arguing that, and importing tens of millions of unskilled immigrants into the welfare state is not going to make that outlook any brighter.

    June 19, 2013 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  13. Alan

    I was called by one of the liberal pollsters once and when they heard my views they ended the call. I suppose I wasn't entered into their data that tried to prove their liberal agenda.

    June 19, 2013 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  14. Dar

    The only people that are better off are the couch potato's who are sucking off the workers that are paying their way.
    Odumbo isn't called the food stamp President for nothing.

    June 19, 2013 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  15. Flooby

    Waaay worse off.

    June 19, 2013 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  16. snowboarder

    no significant change for me from last year to this year. we are definitely significantly better off than we were 5 years ago.

    June 19, 2013 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  17. U.S. Citizen

    Nope.
    My benefits take more from my paycheck.
    The cost of living is rising faster than any pay increase.
    And my company has cut back on incentives due to new regulations.

    June 19, 2013 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  18. Disgusted

    WORSE! Because Wall Streeters, banks, and all the shady real estate developers are gaming the system, and Obama (who i voted for and supported) is not doing anything to stop this. Why hasn't he prosecuted any of the corrupt bankers who've ruined our economy, but who are still taking mega million dollar salaries? Why isn't he going after real estate developers who are charging exorbitant rents and price gauging especially here in NYC? Too bad the police squashed Occupy Wall Street. I think that was our only hope, but the police did the dirty work of politicians and corporations and ultimately worked against their own self interest – after all, they are in the same economic class as most of the OWS folks. SAD!

    June 19, 2013 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  19. Michael

    This economy blows. I don't see it getting better anytime soon.

    June 19, 2013 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  20. Nick

    I love the way media likes to spin polls, like individual opinions reflect reality. And comparing to a year ago? What happened to comparing to 2007, the real benchmark of any progress?

    June 19, 2013 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  21. Adam

    Worse, they are taking more of my monies.

    June 19, 2013 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  22. TSB8C

    Job security is bad. Housing values are still down compared to 2009. Taxes are higher. Purchasing power is down with decreased value of the dollar. Gas is higher than in 2009. Wages haven't kept up with inflation. No, I am not better off financially.

    June 19, 2013 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  23. skippy

    Better off? I was financailly better off when I7 and in high school than I am today! 1-1/2 years of truly, daily searching for a full time job with benefits after cut backs caused me to lose the good one I had for many years, somehow barely managing to keep a roof over my head while living below the poverty level, gas prices so high that I can't even afford to take a day trip to see my daughter, food & especially meat prices so high that I'm losing weight because I skip a meal a day to save money, not being able to go to the dentist or doctor because I have no insurance, not being able to get on my states funded insurance plan because the $8.00 an hour I make at a part-time job makes me inelligable, being behind on bills because I can only afford to pay a little a week to one or another staying one step ahead of them "coming after me", not being able to afford the medication I took for depression/anxiety so I had to stop taking it, living in fear of not knowing if I'll make my rent payment next month........ yeah, I'm better off. Better off than a dead person I guess. And definately worse off than I've ever been in my life. And there are 100's of thousands like me in this country. When I read an article like this I want to vomit. Get the facts from the people who are living like I am and then print your articles about how much better off we are now.

    June 19, 2013 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  24. Grinning Libber

    "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,"
    Of course you have all these teabuggers who say nothing can go right as long as POTUS (OMG he's BLACK!) iis in the White House.
    I invite them to go back and live in the Bush economy of 2008.

    June 19, 2013 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  25. Marcus Grady

    Actually I am doing wonderful financially. I work for cash, take food stamps & pay no taxes. that's why I am a Democrat!

    June 19, 2013 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
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