Dismal Views of the National Economy

  • March 27, 2008

Americans have grown steadily more negative about the national economy over the past three months. Just 11% of the public rates the economy as excellent or good, down from 17% in early February, and 26% in January. Judgments about the national economy are now as negative as they were during the recession of the early 1990s. In August 1993, 10% of Americans rated the economy as excellent or good in a Gallup survey.

However, deepening concern about the national economy has not translated into more dour assessments of personal finances so far. As has been the case for some time, Americans are close to evenly divided between those who rate their personal finances as only fair or poor (51%) and those who say they are excellent or good (47%). In December 1993, just 39% rated their personal finances positively, while 60% viewed them negatively.

Rising prices are clearly the public's top personal concern. Nearly half (49%) say that rising prices are the economic issue that most worries them. In contrast, just 19% name the job situation, 14% cite problems in the financial markets, and 12% cite declining real estate values. Inflation is the primary concern for people at all income levels, although worries about financial markets and declining real estate values register more strongly with Americans with household incomes of $100,000 or more. In contrast, the job situation is a relatively major concern for people with the lowest household incomes.

Read the full report Dismal Views of the National Economy: It's the Inflation, Stupid on the Pew Research Center Web site.