Economic problems at home leads to possible weakness for President Biden

June 17, 2021, 1:27 PM UTC

President Joe Biden – in the middle of his major meetings with European leaders, as well as a potentially difficult and unfriendly summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin – is not only dealing with matters of foreign policy but also with a negative change in economic perceptions in the United States.

According to the latest Economist/YouGov poll, conducted while Biden was in the midst of his trip abroad, concerns about inflation in the U.S. are emerging in reaction to the highest yearly consumer price increase since 2008, even as the jobless rate keeps going down.  

Unemployment remains a more important issue for Democrats and for people whose annual family incomes are below $50,000. Inflation is considered a more important problem than unemployment among those with higher incomes, and with both Republicans and Independents. For many, both economic issues matter.   

When asked this week how they would describe the economy, only one in four adults say it is excellent (3%) or good (23%), while about a third each say it is only fair (35%) or even poor (31%).  

National Tracking

Last week, as many thought the economy was getting better (31%) as said it was getting worse (31%); this week the percentage saying it is getting worse (36%) is nine points higher than the share that believes it is getting better (27%).

Economic concerns usually make Americans worry, and it is clear that is what is happening now. The perception that the country was on the right track increased between January and May. While it never exceeded the share of the public who thought things were headed in the wrong direction, near the end of May, an equal percentage of Americans chose each position.  

That HAS changed dramatically in the last few weeks. Now, nearly half the public (49%) see things as headed in the wrong direction; just 37% say things are moving in the right direction.  

That affects opinions about President Biden. This week, 48% of Americans approve of how he is handling his job, while 43% disapprove. Last week 50% approved, while 40% did not. His positive rating on handling jobs and the economy has also shrunk. This week 45% approve while 41% do not. Last week, the margin of approval over disapproval was 11 points: 49% to 38%.  

See the toplines and crosstabs from this Economist/YouGov poll 

Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 US Adult Citizens interviewed online between June 13 - 15, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3.0% for the overall sample. 

Image: Getty