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. bs1

    It depends on how you measure things I guess. Gross income wise I'm slightly better off this year than last, however I have worse healthcare coverage that is costing me more as a direct result of Obummercare. I also have some real estate I'm having difficulty selling as a reasonable price as a result of Obummer's failure to properly address economic issues, and the ridiculous QE1, QE2, QE3 to infinity smoke and mirrors currency manipulation. So taken as a whole, no I'm not better off this year vs. last year.

    June 19, 2013 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  2. bigdimmortal

    No, the economy is still not getting better. The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer. Benefits keep on getting less but cost more. over 40% of my income goes to taxes and benefits. Cost of living expenses keep rising with no justification. I'm tired of hearing how the stock exchange is getting better and people view that as a status of the economy when in fact the unemployment rate is still the same or worse. The only way to fix it is if the rich take a pay cut. But we all know a person making $10 million a year is not gonna like that next year he is only going to make $8 million.

    June 19, 2013 08:49 am at 8:49 am |

    hahahhahahahhahhaha........the Obama press corp strikes again. How many people are under-employed, unemployed, or are holding on for dear life? Try reporting that CNN

    June 19, 2013 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  4. Ryan

    This article, of course, assumes you have no responsibility to repay any portion of the national debt we keep racking up regardless of how the economy is doing. Each and every single American has a share in our nation's debt by living here. And that debt is growing each and every day....and so are the interest payments.

    June 19, 2013 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  5. Joel

    Glad to see the sequester and austerity is working out so well. [/sarcasm]

    June 19, 2013 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  6. Junior

    It's better for me.

    June 19, 2013 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  7. Ginlyn39

    I am definitely not better off. I got a promotion at work that came with a $298 per month raise. Because taxes are so much higher, I only brought home $108 more this month than I brought home in the same month last year. Additionally, prices on everything, especially groceries, are so much higher, my pay check does not go as far as it did ten years ago when I was making significantly less money.

    June 19, 2013 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  8. Brenda

    The economy is still in the toilet and not going to improve for the foreseeable future. People have been unemployed so long they fell off the unemployment rolls. Or they are making 30-40% less than they did 5 years ago. And anyone looking for a job sees dismal signs. Employers treat their employees like second class citizens making them do the work of 3, not hiring when needed, and chipping away at benefits. It's an employers market and we just have to take it. God forbid you hate your job... depression really sets in. The stock market may have improved but it is not the general economy. People have had their money on the sidelines so they are throwing it in now. It is overinflated and will pull back 20% sooner or later.

    June 19, 2013 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  9. boyamidumb

    Optimism can be advertised, but can't be faked.

    Look at your bank account.

    Look at the fact that we no longer manufacture much of value.

    Look at the labels on your food coming from outside the U.S.

    Look at the labels on everything from your clothes, shoes, cars, appliances.

    Look at who owns many of America's biggest companies today.

    Look at the FACT that jobs have been moved to where companies can pay nothing, have no economic or environmental restrictions.

    Look at who owns your "government leaders."

    Up your polls!

    June 19, 2013 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  10. Amit-Atlanta-USA

    Here's what I think we must do if we AMERICANS are serious about getting our FISCAL HOUSE IN ORDER (16 TRILLION in debt & still mounting!) or REDUCE the INCIDENCE OF RADICAL ISLAMIC TERROR on American soil………….EVER!

    Without doing these there's no way Americans can EVER be better off!

    a) STOP BUYING CHEAP CHINESE MADE GOODS...... and BUY AMERICAN by spending a few pennies/bucks more to buy better quality US made goods. STOP encouraging stores such as WAL-MART selling those cheap OFTEN HARMFUL Chinese goods.

    b) Encourage higher family values and focus on EDUCATING OUR CHILDREN BETTER to compete in today's dynamic world.

    W/O doing (a) & (b) all our talk of being worried about JOBS GOING ABROAD IS AT BEST HOLLOW & HYPOCRITICAL!

    c) STOP worrying about bringing democracy to people who have no value for it. With the exception of Turkey, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia & Malaysia, none of the Islamic countries are democratic. Even these handful of "so-called" democracies are NOT even a shade of the democracy that we know of in the West. We just need to look at the plight of the hapless minorities in these countries to understand that.

    d) STOP sacrificing our trusted allies/Secular leaders (Mubarak, Gaddaffi Ver 2.0, Saddam etc. and now Assad) in the ME in the GARB OF FREEDOMS, replacing them with Muslim Brotherhood/ Al-Qaeda supported rebels.

    e) STOP sacrificing our soldiers, and spending billions of $ (in fact, Trillions) – Money that we ourselves don't have in
    promoting such absolutely worthless causes.

    f) STOP (or at least limit it to ONLY Humanitarian causes) aiding Muslim countries with the HOPES of building bridges between the Muslim world and the west….which will NEVER HAPPEN.....simply b'coz they DON'T HATE US FOR WHAT WE DO, but, FOR WHAT WE ARE!

    g) STOP importing hordes of unadoptable, welfare dependent immigrants from Islamic countries......some of whom will end up as homegrown terrorists (with the majority providing cover or turning a blind eye!). And as the on-going NSA surveillance controversy clearly shows thereby we can also avoid spending billions more in monitoring these communities, their mosques etc. and

    h) MOST IMPORTANTLY – Avoid being misled by covert Islamists such as CNN's Mr. FAREED ZAKARIA who has been working tirelessly to mislead Americans on everyone of the above topics (& more!) and busy feeding Americans with poison laced in honey pots. This man who's called "AMERICA AS A GREATER THREAT TO THE WORLD THAN even AL-QAEDA" is no friend of America (or his native India) but ONLY a faithful Islamic soldier who's much more dangerous than his Koranic educated brethren fighting in the ravines of AfPak.........true to the saying
    "The MIGHTY PEN is more dangerous than the Sword".

    Unless we do all of these, neither can we reduce incidence of HOME GROWN RADICAL ISLAMIC TERROR, nor can we get our FISCAL HOUSE in order........EVER!

    Am I wrong?

    June 19, 2013 08:58 am at 8:58 am |

    3,2,1 the Conservatards will be here in a moment to talk about abortion and how this is the worst of times and how we should all buy gold while listening to Glenn Beck.

    June 19, 2013 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  12. Tony M

    Talk about burying the lead and misleading your public! Seriously! 65% of American feel the economy is poor. Nearly 1 in 2 feel they are worse off than one year ago. How do you possibly spin that as good news? You distort the numbers, ignore the bad numbers, and then blame republicans! It is obvious that CNN 1) takes its editing direction from the democrats, and 2) thinks its audience is galactically stupid!

    June 19, 2013 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  13. William Bresch

    Better even bought a New House Woo Hoo

    June 19, 2013 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  14. Nose Dive

    How is this a mixed Bag? – Your poll clearly shows things are worse, yet CNN continues to give a pass and reward this incompetent Administration and its policy of has obviously failed! Just say so – Americans will respect you more.

    June 19, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  15. Doug

    I was laid off in 2008 my salary then was near 65K, after my unemployment benefits ran out i had to apply for assistance, i received Food stamps cash assistance and Medicaid for 3 years while I tried to find work. We were stable not getting ahead but just enough to get by. Now i find full time employment with full benefits Great huh "WRONG" for one I am doing the same Job I was doing when i was laid off and now my salary is barely 28K, I was doing better on welfare what I mean is now I spend nearly $500 a month just in gas and wear and tear on my vehicle, clothes and other work related expenses and now all the deductions for the insurance and have to pay for all the meds I have to take "paid zero on medicaid" I know you helped pay for my assistance, I get it – just stating that I was better off not working than working, I am actually falling further behind due to working.. go figure

    June 19, 2013 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  16. joe c

    zionist Israeli/jews and israel first traitors have destroyed this country..we will never be better off again...

    June 19, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  17. S

    "CNN Economy Poll: Are you better or worse off than last year?" NO! I am worse off this year than last year, was worse off last year than the previous year, worse off two years ago than three, fully expect to be worse off again next year and do NOT expect to be better off for a LONG time!

    June 19, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  18. Johnny 5

    Being financially better is one thing, but job security is where the problem exists. It's all about the bottom line these days and not about the individual(s). The days of working for a company for 20-30 yrs until retirement are over.

    June 19, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  19. Joe

    I'm financialy better off, but with less stable employment.
    I get paid more, but had to move to working contract positions having very expensive healthcare insurance to get to this point. Family just has wellness insurance at this point which we pay out of pocket, very stressful with lots of prayer.
    Contracts are mostly in 6 month increments, leaving no chance for vacation do to not knowing if the next contract would come through or not.
    A lot of companies have no guilt in ending a contract at the end of the year which leaves it nearly impossible for gaining another contract or job until companies come out of the hiring hibernation in March when their HR departments get the ok to hire from the company bean counters. We refer to the months from November to March the "dead zone" for job hunters.

    June 19, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  20. Truck

    Why aren't we better off? Obama policies.He'a a socialist who hates small business.

    June 19, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  21. Steve

    Yes I am better off. Because of our current President I was able to Refinance our home into a lower interest rate saving my family over 3,600 a year in mortgage payments. And it did not cost me a dime to refinance. Also my wife has learn not to ever use a credit card again unless of a dire emergency. Yes I can say I am better off.

    June 19, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  22. Don

    Most people have not felt they are better off with two recessions and downturns in the markets in past 10-12 years. So I can I say for myself its felt like a lost decade or so as far as getting ready for retirement and trying to live at the same standard of living in retirement.

    June 19, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  23. zaphed

    serious? better off? wow bolonee

    June 19, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  24. jc

    An Associate Degree along with graduating with honers allows me to have a savings account, its called a credit card.

    June 19, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  25. SokrMom

    There is considerable evidence that only the very richest Americans are getting wealthier, that this has been increasingly true ever since Reagan first introduced the false "trickle-down" concept, and that the wealthy are using their wealth to consolidate their power in our Country. This last fact is very common human behavior, and if nothing is done to counteract it, our Country will soon fall into the same wide divide between rich and poor that has always characterized the majority of other nations. The American Dream is dying.

    June 19, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
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