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The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research

The Intersection of Insight and Journalism

Views of the National Economy are Clouded by Personal Finance and Employment Concerns

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research conducted a national survey of 1,008 adults using AmeriSpeak to explore Americans’ views of the national economy and personal finances.

Few Americans think the economy has bounced back substantially from the financial crisis of 2008 and the recession that immediately followed. In a recent poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 6 in 10 regard the condition of the national economy as poor, and less than a quarter expect to see improvement over the next year. 

According to a report released by the White House in February, unemployment is falling, wages are growing, and consumer confidence is on the rise.[1] So why does the public have such a gloomy view of the economy? 

While Americans are more upbeat about their own finances than the national economy, most workers, particularly those with lower incomes, report stagnant wages in recent years. Few are confident they could find new employment if necessary. And Americans have little confidence in their ability to retire on their own schedule.

The White House's economic report acknowledges some forces are causing disaffection among American workers, particularly those on the lower end of the income scale. Lower-income Americans are the least likely to say the economy has recovered, according to the AP-NORC poll. They are also more inclined to express concern about unemployment and reduced wages, and they feel very little security about their ability to retire. 

The nationwide poll of 1,008 adults used the AmeriSpeak® Omnibus, a monthly multi-client survey using NORC at the University of Chicago's probability based panel. Interviews were conducted between April 14 and 18, 2016, online and using landlines and cellphones.

Three Things You Should Know
From The AP-NORC Center's Poll on the economy and personal finances

Among all American Adults:

  1. While 66 percent of Americans describe their own finances as good, 57 percent give negative marks to the national economy.
  2. Only 22 percent say the economy has recovered from the recession, and 77 percent do not expect the economy to improve in the next year. 
  3. Most American workers have not seen a salary increase in recent years. Forty-six percent say their pay has stayed the same and 16 percent have experienced pay cuts.

[1] The Economic Report of the President, https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/ERP_2016_Book_Complete%20JA.pdf