Americans’ optimism about the future direction of the US economy plunged in March 2011, as the percentage of Americans saying the economy is “getting better” fell to 33%, according to Gallup data released in April 2011. This figure is down 19.5% from 41% in January and is also 8% from 36% in March 2010.
Economic Optimism Higher than in Early Recession
Optimism in March essentially matches last year’s low points: 32% in July 2010, 33% in August, and 32% in September. However, it remains higher than it was throughout 2008 and early 2009, with a low point of only 8% in April 2008 (the current recession is generally considered to have begun in April 2008).
Economic Optimism Declines Across Demographic Groups
While upper-income Americans remain more optimistic than their lower- and middle-income counterparts, optimism among both groups declined substantially in March. Despite Wall Street’s strong first quarter performance, the percentage of upper-income Americans saying the economy is getting better fell 18%, to 41% in March from 50% in January, leaving it at the same level as a year ago. Lower- and middle-income Americans’ economic optimism also fell in March, to 32%, down 20% from 40% in January.
Young Adults More Optimistic
Americans of all ages also became less optimistic about the economy in March. Young adults continue to be much more optimistic, however, than do older Americans. For example, 43% of adults age 18-29 said the economy was getting better last month, compared to only 26% of Americans 65 and older, a 39.5% differential. Optimism steadily dropped with each advancing age bracket.
- 35% of men and 31% of women said the economy is getting better in March 2010. These figures were rerespectively 435 and 39%
respectively 43% and 39% two months earlier.
- Dividing respondents by political affiliation, Democrats remain the most optimistic, with 45% saying things are getting better, but this is down from 55% in January and 52% a year ago. Independents’ economic optimism is at 31% and Republicans’ at 21%, both respectively down from 38% and 31% in January.
More Adults See Recession than in 2010
About 10% more US adults say the economy is in a recession today (43%) than did in 2010 (39%), according to a survey from Deloitte. Data from the “2011 Spring Consumer Pulse Survey” also indicates a 5% drop in the percentage of adults saying the economy is in a recent recovery (52%) from 2010 (55%), with the percentage saying they don’t know dropping about 17% (from 6% to 5%).
About the Data: Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking during March 2011 with 15,561 respondents, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 US states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling.