68% Say Economy Is Getting Worse as Confidence Collapse Continues

President Joe Biden speaks at Brookland Middle School, Friday, Sept. 10, 2021 in Washington. Biden has encouraged every school district to promote vaccines, including with on-site clinics, to protect students as they return to school amid a resurgence of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Confidence in the U.S. economy continues to weaken despite the Biden administration’s insistence that the economy is doing great.

The share of Americans saying the economy is getting worse climbed from 63 percent in September to 68 percent in October, Gallup reported Wednesday.

This was not a case of partisan politics. Democrats and Republican views of the economy were essentially unchanged in October, according to Gallup. What happened was the percentage of independents who say economic conditions are getting worse soared nine points from 63 percent to 72 percent.

The Economic Confidence Index fell to negative 25 in October, the lowest reading since negative 33 in April 2020 and negative 28 the following month. Gallup’s index has a theoretical high score of +100, if everyone says the economy is excellent or good, and a possible low score of -100, if everyone says the economy is poor and getting worse.

Before the eruption of pandemic in the U.S., confidence was high. The Gallup index registered +41 in February 2020, the best reading since 2000. It collapsed in March and hit the nadir of -33 in April. Since then, confidence has fluctuated but has never risen above the +2 recorded in April 2021. The October decline is the fourth consecutive retreat.

Americans are increasingly mentioning economic issues as one of the most important challenges facing the U.S.

“The upticks in citations of the deficit and inflation are largely responsible for an increase in mentions of any economic issue — from 16 percent in September to 24 percent in October. The percentage of U.S. adults mentioning any economic issue as the most important has not been this high since April 2017, although the 23 percent figure from last June is similar to the current reading,” Gallup said.

The rest of the “stack” of most important issues is also not good news for the Biden administraiton.

The government or poor leadership is most often mentioned as the top problem facing the U.S., cited by 21 percent of Americans. With COVID-19 vaccinations up and cases falling after the summer surge, mentions of the disease have dropped six points, to 15 percent (but are still slightly above the 12 percent in July as the delta surge was beginning).

Immigration (11%), unifying the country (7%), the federal budget deficit (6%), the economy in general (6%), inflation (5%), race relations (5%), unemployment (4%) and moral decline (4%) are the next-most-mentioned issues.

The Commerce Department will announce third-quarter growth figures on Thursday morning. Analysts expect around 2.8 percent growth, far lower than Americans were told to expect earlier this year.

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