Would you believe that America is experiencing a new era of good feelings?
While America seems bitterly divided over many political questions, the rising tide of economic good feelings that swept America in the wake of the election of President Donald Trump shows no signs of abating. And there is widespread agreement among Americans that the Trump administration deserves credit for America’s economy.
The latest CNBC “All American Survey” finds that 30 percent of the public are both optimistic about the economy now and for the future, the second quarter in a row that present-future optimism scored so high. That’s the highest reading in the survey’s 10-year history. The previous high of 23 percent was hit in the March 2015 and December 2014 surveys.
Optimism about the future remains very high. Thirty-eight percent say the economy “will get better” in the next year. That’s down from 40 percent in April and 42 percent in December, suggesting some of the post-election optimism is slipping. But it is well above the 25 percent registered in October, prior to the presidential election. It remains higher than any point since December 2009, when America was in the throes of the Great Recession.
Similarly, the post-election surge of positive feelings about the current state of the economy has continued. Prior to the election, just 23 percent of Americans rated the economy “good.” That number rose to 31 percent in the December survey, to 36 percent in the April survey, and held steady at 35 percent in the latest survey. Those post-election numbers are the highest ever recorded in the survey.
Far fewer Americans rate the current state of the economy as “poor.” In the pre-election survey, 30 percent gave the economy a poor rating–a result largely consistent with those throughout the Obama administration. That number fell to 23 percent in December, fell again to 17 percent in April. In the latest results, just 16 percent give the economy a poor rating.
The number of Americans who say the economy will get worse in the next year has grown since the election but is not much higher than it was for almost all of the Obama administration. In the latest survey, 29 percent of Americans were pessimistic about the economy, up from 26 percent in April and 23 percent in December. Just prior to the election, this number had fallen to 20 percent–thanks to a record high number of Americans (23 percent) saying they weren’t sure what the next year held.
The current level of pessimism about the future is hardly unusual. Prior to the election year rise in uncertainty about the future, the first time ever that the “not sure” response rose to double digits, the average level of pessimism since 2008 has been 29 percent.
A close reading of the survey reveals that the Trump administration’s economic populism may be afflicting some pessimism on the well-off. Those who give current economic conditions high marks now but pessimistic about the future has risen to seven percent. Prior to the election, this number was rarely more than 1 or 2 percent. Immediately following the election, it had surged to 10 percent.
Meanwhile, the share of Americans feeling very bad about the economy has declined dramatically. Just 39 percent of Americans are both pessimistic about their present circumstances and the future. While this represents an increase from the 35 percent in April and 30 percent in December, it is well above the stubbornly high levels of pessimism that characterized the Obama years. One year ago, 49 percent were double pessimists and often in the prior surveys this number ran in the mid-fifties to mid-sixties.
While many political pundits and economic pundits have insisted that credit for improving economic conditions belongs to Barack Obama or the the normal turning of the business cycle, few Americans agree. In fact, there is broad agreement that the Trump administration’s policies deserve credit. Among Americans who say the economy will improve over the next year, 65 percent credit Trump’s policies. Among those who say it will get worse, 75 percent credit Trump’s policies.
The share of employed Americans who expect their wages will rise over the next year climbed to 44 percent, the highest level of optimism since February of 2008. Eleven percent of Americans expect a raise of 11 percent or more, in keeping with the post-election surge in wage optimism that saw this measure rise from 7 percent in September to 15 percent in December.
Homeowner optimism about home prices has also rocketed. The latest survey finds that 54 percent of homeowners expect the value of their home to rise in the next 12 months, a rise from 45 percent three months ago and 38 percent in September.
Investor optimism continues to run high, as well. Forty-four percent of those with investments in the stock market say now is a good time to invest. This figure has now run at or above 40 percent for the last three quarterly surveys, a record streak of optimism. Fourteen percent say it is a “very good” time to invest, a level not seen since December 2008, when 15 percent of investors saw the financial crisis and stock market crash as a buying opportunity (twice that many said it was a very bad time to invest, a record level of pessimism). Investors pessimism is near its all-time lows, with just 31 percent saying it is a bad time to invest. Prior to the election, 40 percent of Americans said it was a bad time to invest.
In other words, if you think we are living in a time of disorder and uncertainty, you may be getting misled by all the headlines about political chaos in Washington, D.C. Americans optimism is running very high on everything from the broad economy to wages to home prices to the stock market. Feeling better yet?