President Joe Biden’s approval rating has been hurt recently by the chaotic withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and by the COVID-19 surge fueled by the Delta variant. Now the latest Economist/YouGov Poll suggests that Americans’ concern about the economy could signal more trouble for Biden. His overall approval rating tracks closely with how Americans view his handling of the economy. This week marks his worst rating on handling jobs and the economy – and an overall approval rating near his lowest as president.
In the first poll of Biden’s presidency, 45% of the country was optimistic about the next few years with him, and 35% were pessimistic. Those numbers have reversed themselves. In this week’s poll, only 33% are optimistic and 47% are pessimistic.
The continuing pandemic, and the perception that it is nowhere near its end, is depressing economic confidence. Three in five Americans believe the pandemic will not end until 2023 at the earliest, and possibly not at all. And 57% of Americans think it will take more than two years for the country to recover economically from the pandemic.
Part of the problem is jobs. Biden’s low rating on the economy comes after last week’s disappointing jobs report – with fewer jobs created than expected, despite the jobless rate dropping to its lowest level since the beginning of the pandemic. Rising prices and supply chain problems pressuring availability of goods also may have contributed to economic anxiety. As the year has gone on, more Americans have named inflation as a bigger problem than unemployment than the other way around.
And when asked what the best economic indicator is, more than twice as many Americans today name prices and not unemployment.
Even so, more than half of Americans say unemployment is a very or somewhat serious problem in their own communities. Three in four call it a very or somewhat serious problem nationwide. It is a problem that many expect to continue: Only one in four Americans believe there will be more jobs available in six months.
Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 U.S. adult citizens interviewed online between October 9 - 12, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the 2018 American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as 2020 Presidential vote. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S. citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3% for the overall sample.