Despite incremental improvements in the U.S. economic situation — including the inflation rate reaching a two-year low in June — American views of the state of the economy remain quite negative, new polling by the Economist/YouGov finds.
Nearly half of Americans (47%) believe the U.S. is currently in recession; an additional 21% say a recession is very or somewhat likely in the next year. Republicans (66%) are more than twice as likely as Democrats (31%) to say we're currently in a recession. Another 21% of Americans think a recession within the next 12 months is very (3%) or somewhat (18%) likely. (Economists say we are not in a recession and are less sure than they once were that one is imminent.)
Most Americans (57%) say that "the prices of goods and services you buy" is the best measure of how the national economy is doing. Far fewer name "the unemployment rate and jobs report" (15%), "your personal finances" (10%), or "the stock market index" (6%).
While the number of jobs has increased since 2021, and the number of jobs has gone up in every month during that span, just 38% of Americans — including 47% of Democrats and 30% of Republicans — say that the number of jobs is increasing. Meanwhile, 23% say it's decreasing and 38% say it's staying the same.
Unemployment is viewed as a very or somewhat serious national problem by 60% of Americans. But when asked to say which is a more important problem — unemployment or inflation — Americans choose inflation by 53% to 4%; 37% say the two are equally important problems.
Just 15% of Americans expect inflation to drop in the next six months; 43% expect it will be higher in six months than it is today and 26% expect it will be the same.
President Joe Biden's approval rating is virtually unchanged from last week: 39% strongly or somewhat approve of his job performance. The share who approve of his handling of jobs and the economy is 41%, also nearly unchanged. Approval of his handling of inflation/prices, however, has dropped 4 percentage points in the last week, to 29% approving from 33% approving. Among Republicans, 93% strongly or somewhat disapprove, up from 80% two months before — an increase of 13 percentage points during a period when monthly reports showed price increases were slowing.
Methodology: Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to November 1, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 31% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 3%.
Image: Getty (KATERYNA KON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY)