As the country continues to grapple with higher gas prices and supply chain-related obstacles, a sizable majority of Americans (72%) say economic conditions are only fair or poor; just 28% say the economy is excellent or good. And when asked to evaluate how several areas of the economy have changed over the last year, including the prices of food and consumer goods and the federal budget deficit, majorities of the public say six of the eight measures included on this survey are worse than they were last year.
Positive assessments of the economy have been relatively low since April 2020 – shortly after the coronavirus outbreak led to nationwide shutdowns – when 23% rated the economy as excellent or good. Today, 28% of the public rates the economy as excellent or good, which is roughly on par with views from September of last year when 26% rated the economy in this way.
While Republicans and Democrats held broadly similar views of the economy in the early months of the Biden presidency, a wider partisan gap emerged in September, when Democrats and Democratic leaners (34%) were more likely to rate the economy as excellent or good than Republicans and Republican leaners (16%). Today, this division remains: Currently, 36% of Democrats rate the economy as excellent or good, compared with one-in-five Republicans.
The public is also rather pessimistic about the future of the national economy. Today, 27% of adults say they expect that economic conditions will be better a year from now than they are today; 29% said the same September of last year. Larger shares of the public expect the economy to stay the same (37%) or get worse (35%) in the next year.
Republicans, in particular, are more pessimistic in their expectations: More than half of Republicans (54%) expect economic conditions in the country will be worse in the next year. And while 32% of Republicans say they expect the economy will be the same a year from now, few (13%) say they expect economic conditions to improve in the next year.
By contrast, expectations among Democrats are mixed: 38% say they expect the economy will be better in the next year, while 41% Democrats say they expect the economy will remain the same. One-in-five Democrats say they expect economic conditions will be better next year.
How Americans view jobs, prices and other economic trends
When asked to evaluate whether eight areas of the national economy have improved, worsened or stayed about the same over the last year, majorities of Americans say most of these areas are now worse than they were a year ago.
Nearly nine-in-ten (89%) say the prices of food and consumer goods are worse than they were a year ago, including 60% who say they are a lot worse. Slightly fewer say gasoline prices (82%) have gotten worse, while 79% say the cost of housing is worse than it was last year.
Roughly seven-in-ten say the availability of consumer goods (70%) and the federal budget deficit (68%) are worse in comparison with a year ago. And though 55% of adults say the cost of health care is worse than it was last year, 36% say it is about the same.
The public is divided on how the stock market has changed over the last year: 32% of adults say the stock market is worse than it was last year, while 27% say it is better; another 37% say the stock market is about the same as it was a year ago.
The only area of the economy in which a majority of Americans say they’ve seen improvement over the last year is in the availability of jobs. More than half (56%) say the availability of jobs in the country has gotten better over the last year, including 26% who say this has gotten a lot better. About a quarter (24%) say the availability of jobs is about the same, while 19% say the availability of jobs has worsened in the last year.
In some cases, Republicans and Democrats are in sync in their evaluations of recent changes in the economy. Large majorities in both parties say prices for food and consumer goods have gotten worse (94% of Republicans and Republican leaners, 86% of Democrats and Democratic leaners). And there are only modest partisan difference in views of gas prices: 89% of Republicans and 78% of Democrats say they have gotten worse.
Partisans also generally agree about the availability of jobs in the country. Nearly equal shares of Democrats (18%) and Republicans (19%) say the situation is worse than it was last year. However, while 61% of Democrats say the availability of jobs has improved, about half of Republicans (52%) say the same.
The widest partisan gap is on evaluations of the federal budget deficit: Nearly nine-in-ten Republicans (88%) say the federal budget deficit is worse than it was year ago, compared with 54% of Democrats.
But while majorities of Republicans and Democrats say many areas of the economy have worsened in comparison with a year ago, Republicans are more likely to say some of these areas are a lot worse, especially gasoline prices and the prices of food and consumer goods.
About nine-in-ten Republicans and Republican leaners (89%) say that gasoline prices are worse than they were a year ago, with 73% saying they are a lot worse. By contrast, while a majority of Democrats (78%) also say gas prices are worse, just 40% say they are lot worse.
Similarly, while 94% of Republicans say that the prices for food and consumer goods have gotten worse over the last year, nearly three-quarters in the GOP (74%) say these prices have gotten a lot worse. By contrast, half of Democrats say the prices for food and consumer goods have gotten a lot worse.