Economic jitters up despite lowest jobless rate in 50 years

October 11, 2019, 5:14 PM GMT+0

Even with the lowest jobless rate in 50 years (reported Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics), Americans are not optimistic on the economy, according to the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, conducted after the economic report was released. The jobless rate is not necessarily the best economic indicator to the public. Only one in three (33%) Americans believe the national unemployment rate does a “good” or “very good” job explaining the health of the economy.

Republicans are more likely to say the jobless rate does a good job of summarizing the state of the economy, though a majority think other measures (like prices, the Stock Market, and their own family’s economic situation) do better. 41 percent of Republicans (and 29 percent of US adults overall) think the unemployment rate is the best economic indicator.

Public unease about the economy has been clear in this poll for the last two months, and this week, just about as many Americans believe the economy is getting worse as think it is improving. Opinion has much to do with partisanship, as 61 percent of Republicans say the economy is getting better, while 55 percent of Democrats say it is getting worse.

President Donald Trump frequently has mentioned a historic drop in the unemployment rate for black Americans, though the jobless rate for black people remains consistently higher than the overall rate. But black people in this poll don’t reflect economic optimism: only 4 percent say the economy is getting better, and only 10 percent (less than half the percentage among the entire public) think their family’s finances are better than they were a year ago.

Given the good jobless rate numbers, many Americans still worry about their own jobs. More than a third are worried at least somewhat about losing their jobs. That’s true for one in four Republicans and 45 percent of Democrats. Four in 10 black Americans are worried.

However, the President’s approval rating on handling the economy is still one of his best issue areas: in this week’s poll, 47 percent approve while 42 percent disapprove.

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Read the full toplines and table results from this week’s Economist/YouGov poll

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