Americans in new poll deeply pessimistic about economy

A customer pumps gas at an Exxon gas station, Tuesday, May 10, 2022, in Miami.
Marta Lavandier/Associated Press
A customer pumps gas at an Exxon gas station, Tuesday, May 10, 2022, in Miami.

More than 8 in 10 Americans believe the state of the nation’s economy is poor or not so good, according to a new Wall Street Journal-NORC poll.

The poll found that just 1 percent of respondents described the U.S. economy as excellent, while 27 percent described it as poor and 55 percent as not so good.

More than a third of respondents — 35 percent — said they were not satisfied at all with their present financial situation. The Wall Street Journal reported that the figure represents the highest dissatisfaction level ever recorded on the question, which the outlet said had been asked every few years starting in 1972.

Fourteen percent of respondents said they were pretty satisfied with their financial situation, and 51 percent said they were more or less satisfied.

About 4 in 10 respondents said their financial situation has been getting worse during the last few years, while 24 percent indicated their financial situation had gotten better. Thirty-nine percent said their situation stayed the same.

The poll comes after the country’s inflation rate hit a 40-year high earlier this year, with prices on consumer goods up 8.3 percent on last year.

President Biden has made combatting inflation his top economic priority after numerous administration officials previously described rising prices as “transient” and “temporary.” The Federal Reserve is now ratcheting up interest rates in a bid to cool the economy, while also raising concern about a looming recession.

Sixty-three percent of respondents said they were extremely or very concerned about the impact of higher gas prices, and 54 percent indicated the same for grocery prices. The national average for a gallon of gas reached $4.865 as of Monday, the highest ever recorded, according to AAA.

Biden is reportedly planning a meeting with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince in a bid to increase global oil supply and alleviate prices at the pump, going back on a campaign promise to isolate the Gulf nation.

A minority of respondents said they were extremely or very concerned about the impact of price increases for the six other categories polled, including prescription drugs and housing, but at least a third of respondents said they were at least very concerned for all categories except child care. 

Inflation has ranked in polls as a top concern for voters in recent months, which has worsened Democrats’ political outlook in the midterms as they face historical headwinds in protecting their razor-thin majorities in Congress.

Despite concerns over high prices, about two-thirds of respondents — 65 percent — indicated it would be at least somewhat easy to find a new job with approximately the same income and benefits. The Wall Street Journal said it was one of the highest levels of job confidence ever recorded in the poll question since it was first asked in 1977. 

The U.S added 390,000 jobs and the unemployment rate held even at 3.6 percent in May, building on months of high job growth as the country continues a rapid economic recovery from the pandemic, according to data released Friday by the Labor Department.

Job openings remained at near record highs on the last business day in April, decreasing slightly to 11.4 million, according to a report released Wednesday from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There were roughly two open jobs for each unemployed American.

The Wall Street Journal-NORC poll was conducted online and by phone from May 9 through May 17 with a margin of error of 4 percentage points. The 1,071 adult respondents were randomly drawn from the AmeriSpeak panel, which uses random sampling to represent the U.S. household population.

Tags Biden Economy gas prices inflation Joe Biden Poll

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