I have been meaning to get this posted for the last two days. Gallup did a great job taking the pulse of America – and since they actually poll real live people – their polls are more reflective of the attitude of Americans than a lot of the government reports that are spit out.
More than half of Americans (55%) describe the U.S. economy as being in a recession or depression, even as the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) reports that “the economic recovery is proceeding at a moderate pace.” Another 16% of Americans say the economy is “slowing down,” and 27% believe it is growing.
While most Americans seem to disagree with the FOMC’s characterization of the economy, their current assessment is better than that of September 2008 — during the height of the financial crisis — when 69% said the economy was in a recession or depression. On the other hand, current attitudes are more downbeat, overall, than they were in early February 2008, when 45% considered the economy to be in either a recession or a depression. However, Americans are much more likely today to perceive the economy as growing rather than slowing down.
Democrats Give Better Ratings Than Republicans and Tea Party Supporters
Forty-two percent of Democrats say the economy is growing — essentially the same as the 43% from that party who say the economy is in a recession or depression. Democrats are much more positive on the economy than their Republican counterparts, 68% of whom describe the economy as in recession or depression, while 14% say it is growing. Tea Party supporters’ ratings are similar to Republicans’, and independents’ ratings are about midway between those from the two major parties.
Nearly One-Third of Upper-Income Americans Say Economy Is Growing
Fifty-two percent of upper-income Americans say the economy is in a recession or depression and 31% think it is growing. These ratings, though not good, are better than lower-income Americans’ ratings: 65% of this group says the economy is in a recession or depression and 21% say it is growing.
Although economists announced that the recession ended in mid-2009, more than half of Americans still don’t agree. These ratings are consistent with Gallup’s mid-April findings that47% of Americans rate the economy “poor” and 19.2% report being underemployed.
It also seems likely that most Americans would not agree with the FOMC’s assessment of the current economic recovery. Nor does it seem likely that — given surging gas and food prices — most would agree with the Committee that “longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable and measures of underlying inflation are subdued.”
Although the FOMC seems to perceive current economic conditions differently than most Americans, it does say it needs to “promote a stronger pace of economic recovery” by continuing its aggressive monetary policy, often referred to as “quantitative easing,” through June. On the other hand, in the press conference after the FOMC’s April meeting — the first ever by a Fed chairman — Ben Bernanke said that, “the trade-offs are getting less attractive at this point,” meaning it is getting harder to aggressively add liquidity to stimulate stronger economic growth while avoiding inflation.
In another possible disconnect with monetary policymakers, many Americans may not see the trade-off Bernanke suggests between promoting a stronger economy and experiencing higher inflation. Right now, prices are soaring, yet the latest Gallup Daily tracking data show that 67% of Americans say the economy is “getting worse.”