Economic Pain Is Still Felt, Though Perhaps The Pain Is Lessening

April 04, 2013, 1:00 PM GMT+0

(Week of 3/30/2013) Americans suffered much during the economic crisis that began nearly five years ago. Just about half in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll say they or someone they know lost a job in the financial crisis. At the start of President Obama’s first Administration, 69% said the economy was continuing to get worse.

But while Americans are still concerned about job loss, that extremely negative assessment of the state of the economy has changed. In this week’s poll, less than half that percentage believe things are getting worse. Nearly as many say the economy is finally improving (something just 4% believed in February 2009.

In February 2009, just about half the country thought their own family’s financial situation had gotten worse from the year before. That percentage has also been cut significantly. In this week’s poll, just 29% say that. And while only 16% now think things have improved for their families in the last year, that is twice as many who felt that way at the start of the Administration.

There may not be a lot of extra wealth lying around: hardly anyone in the poll admitted to being a millionaire, and just 2% claim to have a vacation home. And though the stock market has made up just about all its losses following the sharp 2008 downturn, only one in four expect stocks to keep going higher in the next 12 months.

Optimism is higher among college graduates and those with household incomes of $100,000 a year or more. These are also the groups who are most likely to be invested in the market.