For the first time in at least five years, as many Americans say they are hearing good news (26%) as bad news (25%) about the nation’s job situation; a 45% plurality reports hearing a mix of good and bad news.
This is the first time that more than 20% have expressed positive views about job news since the Pew Research Center began tracking this question in 2009. In June of that year, just 1% said news about the job situation was mostly good, and 71% said it was mostly bad. In the last year alone, the share hearing mostly bad news about jobs has fallen 15 points, while the percentage hearing mostly good news has risen nine points.
When it comes to news about the overall economy, most continue to say that they’re hearing a mix of good and bad news (63%), while 21% say they are hearing mostly bad news and 14% are hearing mostly good news. The gap between positive and negative perceptions has narrowed considerably since a year ago, when 31% were hearing bad news and 7% were hearing good news.
The new national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted Dec. 11-14 among 1,001 adults, finds that declining gas prices are registering widely with the public. Seven-in-ten (70%) are hearing mostly good news about gas prices, compared with just 8% who are hearing mostly bad news.
Public perceptions of gas prices are by far the most positive of four economic sectors tested (gas prices, the job situation, retail sales and the stock market). Views of news about gas prices have improved dramatically from early August, when 44% said they were hearing mostly bad news about gas prices and just 15% were hearing largely good news. Last year at this time, 36% were hearing mostly bad news about gas prices and 23% were hearing good news.
Prior to this survey, perceptions of gas prices had never been more positive than negative in Pew Research’s periodic tracking that started in February 2011. In July 2012, as many were hearing mostly good news about gas prices as bad news (31%).
Majorities in all geographic regions say they are hearing mostly good news about gas prices, which average $2.55 across the country, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration
With the holiday shopping season underway, about twice as many are hearing good news about retail sales (28%) as bad news (13%); about half (48%) are hearing mixed news. This sentiment is roughly in line with opinions measured in December of each of the previous two years.
Despite the Dow Jones Industrial Average trading near record highs, attitudes are mixed when it comes to recent news about the stock market. Two-in-ten (20%) say they are hearing mostly good news about the stock market compared with 16% who are hearing mostly bad news; 45% say news has been mixed and 19% say they don’t know.
Partisan Differences in Views of Jobs News
Republicans and Democrats have similar views when it comes to news about gas prices, retail sales and the stock market. However, they differ in their judgments of jobs news and overall economic news.
Among Democrats, nearly four-in-ten (39%) are hearing mostly good news about the job situation and just 17% are hearing largely bad news. By comparison, 24% of Republicans are hearing mostly good jobs news and 33% are hearing mostly bad news. Differences in views are especially wide between liberal Democrats (47% good vs. 16% bad) and conservative Republicans (19% good vs. 39% bad).
When it comes to overall economic news, 60% of both Democrats and Republicans say the news lately has been mixed, but somewhat more Democrats (20%) than Republicans (12%) say it has been mostly good.
Those with family incomes of $30,000 or less see a dimmer picture; across all economic sectors, they are less likely than higher-income adults to report hearing mostly good economic news. For example, two-in-ten (20%) lower-income adults say they are hearing mostly good news about the job situation, compared with 35% of those with family incomes of $75,000 or more.