Americans’ economic confidence is falling amid the spread of the coronavirus, according to a new Gallup poll. The survey was conducted between March 2-13 through telephone interviews.
This is a stark contrast to the recent highs in economic confidence showcased over the past few months, as recorded by Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index. Drops in the stock market, supply chain uncertainty, and less consumer spending at stores and restaurants due to self isolation and quarantine measures have contributed to the Economic Confidence Index dropping from +41 in February to +22 in March.
While the +21 reading is not the lowest point in Gallup’s measuring history, the sizable 19-point drop in confidence in just one month is reportedly one of the largest that Gallup has measured.
Preceding this recent decline are a 27 point-drop between January and February in 2001 and a 22-point fall between June and July of 2002, which both came during a period of decline for internet-based company stocks, according to Gallup researchers.
Still, this isn’t all bad news. Gallup calculates its index based on Americans’ evaluations of current economic conditions and their perception of whether the U.S. economy is improving or declining. It has a theoretical maximum score of +100 and a corresponding minimum of -100. With this scale, a positive index score is still optimistic, meaning that +22 implies that Americans are still positive about the economy, albeit at a less confident level.
When surveying a random sample of 1,019 U.S. adults across all 50 states and the District of Columbia in March, researchers found that 47 percent of respondents said the economy is improving, with another 47 percent saying it was declining.
February survey results were much higher, with 61 percent of respondents telling researchers that they felt the U.S. economy was improving. Only 33 percent said it was getting worse.
Across party lines, Democrats, Republicans, and Independents all posted declines in economic confidence, with Democrats’ confidence index falling more than that of Republicans’.
The survey authors believe this index reading reinforces the anxiety Americans have as COVID-19 cases increase, and the growing distrust in the government to handle the pandemic. Most Americans still regard the U.S. economy as strong, but are now “somewhat less likely to do so, and are increasingly skeptical that the economy is improving,” according to the report.
Gallup notes that the margin of sampling error is +/-4 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.