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. bencoates57

    "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"

    And yet at least once a month CNN and Yahoo and other outlets declare "recovery."

    June 19, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  2. The Elephant in the Room

    Just as he won the "who is better on foreign policy" contest, Obama has won on the economy. The stock market is @ record highs, people 401Ks recovered from the debacle of Bush [remember McCain "suspending" his campaign to sevote his crack financial intellect to the problem?], jobs CREaTED each month for over 3 Y- Y- YEARS!

    The SMART public knows that the GOP has been nothing but an anchor, a hinderance to economic growth trying to pull Obama & America down. Oh, what are they going to do now that these polls see that people are trending toward economic satisfaction? All the contraversy smears really won`t work now. Issa is about to get royally embarassed when Elijah Cummings release the full transcripts of the testimony which shows no "there" there . . . and this from the mouth of Republican IRS workers.

    June 19, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  3. Name Uche Agonsi

    Unemployment & debt reductions are key strategies Obama must adopt to overcome his fading popularity. He must not let go these two tasks. Thats the only way he can solve the problem of Washington.........regaining his popularity from Americans by solving their economic problems, then the people will deal with Washington, simple......Obama must dream the economy, eat economy, & even breathe the economy.

    June 19, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  4. W.G.

    The American people are suffering . While the republicans do nothing . WE could be repairing
    roads and bridges but they but they refuse to work with the president . They´ll pass an abortin
    bill that doesn´t stand a chance of reach the rpesident and is considered unconstitutional but
    they won´t do anything to help the American People . It seems as long as the baby is in the belly
    they´ll protect the baby but once it´s born it´s on his own .

    June 19, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  5. Guess

    When will people properly assign blame, paying 170k+ a year to fight against progress

    June 19, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  6. W.G.

    This problemis because of the republicans , plain and simple . We could be creating jobs by building bridges
    improving roads but the republicans stand idyly by . It´s because of the presidents color nothing more .

    June 19, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  7. John

    I find it's just as hard to find work as it was in 2008 when this recession started. Worse, prices of everything , food, gas!, etc. are terrible.

    June 19, 2013 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  8. Former GOP

    ......Economic Polls are ALWAYS between 6 and 12 months BEHIND the facts....

    June 19, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  9. jeff

    Translation: Are the obstructionist policy's of the GOP working?

    June 19, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  10. chet

    We are constantly worrying about finances as we always have – buying power is down as the economy TRIES to recover! Big spending Washington will so cause the collapse of the economy again, about the time the next President takes office! Then they will either blame Obama or get the blame!

    June 19, 2013 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  11. GI Joe

    I'm far better off than I was 6 years ago.

    June 19, 2013 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  12. rla

    Sure more people dropping out of the work force every month and then not needing to be counted and the only job creation in low level , low pay positions.... Amazing how CNN and this administration will spin this - If it were not tragic it would be funny

    June 19, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  13. Glenn

    "... with 1,014 adults nationwide questioned by telephone." I realize that there are ways to deal with small samples which involve really huge assumptions (like a normalized distribution), but in my opinion this is much too small of a sample to really say anything, when the population you're sampling has n = 314 Million (2012). I think this one of those cases where statistics can be misapplied (with good intentions), and end up providing meaningless answers.

    June 19, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  14. Kelcy

    Better off relative to what? Have they been able to rebuild their savings that perhaps they had to break into in order to live? Did they get pay raises that were better than just the Cost of Living? Did the cost of their health insurance go down? Did their COL go down (maybe they downsized their lives)? Or maybe their IRAs or 401Ks went almost back to where they were when they crashed five years ago so they feel better? Of course, that is not where they would have been had the markets and economy not crashed five yours ago and it is unlikely they will ever make it up. Or that they made the losses up from the repeated crashes in the last 30 years. To just hold steady and run in place seems to make the average American feel better because they don't realize that these repeated hits ensure they won't have enough to live comfortably when they reach old age. Or really they feel the economy and their lives are improving just because they are no longer in free fall.

    June 19, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  15. George Mathew

    Finacially bad for me and family

    June 19, 2013 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  16. kara

    These people who are complaining brought this menace on themselves. He(Obama) is a no nothing arrogant clueless slug.
    I only hope that this country's greatness remains intact...despite his plan of destruction.

    June 19, 2013 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  17. jay

    Yes, thanks to obama. he has my vote the next 4 elections

    June 19, 2013 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  18. Arch Stanton

    If you have money invested, you're definitely better off. My portfolio took a big hit during Bush's terms, they were horrible and dropped below what I'd put into them, but in the past four years or so they've recouped all the losses and then practically doubled. There are areas of the economy that are still weak, but investments are doing amazingly well.

    June 19, 2013 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  19. Scott

    I am worse off.

    The year started off with less money in my pocket because of the expiration of the Bush tax cuts. Thanks, Washington.

    The year got worse to my paycheck because of sequestration-related uncertainty. Thanks, Washington.

    I have less money because both the Democrats and Republicans decided to play chicken with the economy and neither one gave it before they allowed things to crash.

    June 19, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  20. katincal

    No better, no worse, just the same (sad)

    June 19, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  21. Javier

    Sequestration is hurting recovery, but overall as the DOW indicates, business is doing well. I am a little ahead then last year, but would probably just call it even.

    June 19, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  22. fedupwithamericanpolitics

    Obama is every bit as bad as Bush as just as good about covering up whatever Truth might have existed. Obama was able to cover up the damage of Hurricane Sandy and all the displaced homeowners. If Obama and his Tightly Controlled State Media can do this, they can do anything. Two Thirds say the country is going badly, what a resounding success for this failed Administration.

    June 19, 2013 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  23. Yeah, right!

    Only reason I'm "better off" financially is because I got a second job - and I REALLY" enjoy" watching the Obamas live it up on our dimes during their current European vacation, while Michelle spews about Hogwarts!

    June 19, 2013 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  24. Jinx9to88

    CNN, like I always say your gonna have 47 – 50 % of the American people that will say their lives are crappy just because Obama is president. So your poll is useless. I am an independent, and i would have to say yes my life is better under Obama. My house value stable and slowly on the rise, 401k looking better than ever, I have a job and wars are coming to an end with troops coming home to their families. So overall, "yes" I think I am better off now than before he took office.

    June 19, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  25. morphy699

    the 44% that are worse off are all TAXPAYERS. Obama's voters are doing much better. FREE stuff for all leftwingers.

    June 19, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
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