06/01/2005 - The public continues to be wary in its assessments of the health of the U.S. economy, despite recent improvement in some key economic indicators. Only about one-in-three Americans think the national economy is in good shape, and optimism about the future is markedly lower than it has been over the past three years. Closer to home, the percentage of the public rating its own financial situation positively has declined since the beginning of the year from 51% to 44%.
No single factor explains this cautious outlook. Instead, the public's economic unease appears to reflect a variety of concerns, both personal and national in scope. There is a broad consensus that gas prices are a significant problem for the nation, and the federal budget deficit also looms as a major source of anxiety.
Yet the polling identifies several other sources of financial worry. Public perceptions of local job availability remain highly negative, despite recent improvements in the national employment picture. While people with low household incomes are most troubled by financial problems of all types, including job shortages, about half of those with annual incomes above $75,000 say that jobs are scarce in their community.
The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted May 11-15 among 1,502 Americans, also finds a growing number of Americans, especially those living in the Northeast and West, believe that housing has become difficult to afford in their communities. One-in-four, including many at middle-income levels, also say they owe more in personal debt than they can afford.
Read the full report Economic Concerns Fueled By Many Woes: Gas Prices, Jobs, Housing, Debt Burden and the Stock Market on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press Web site.