Sixty-nine percent of Americans think the economy is bad right now, a poll released over the weekend by CBS News and YouGov shows.
The share saying the economy is bad had been holding steady for the first four months of the year and final two months of last year. Between September and November, the share saying the economy is bad jumped from 51 percent to 64 percent and held at around that level through April even as the unemployment rate fell from 4.2 percent to 3.6 percent.
Inflation climbed steadily higher during those months, with the Consumer Price Index’s annual gain going all the way from 6.8 percent in November to 8.6 percent in March. In April it notched down to 8.3 percent. Yet that did not raise the percent of people saying the economy is bad.
The Fed hiked interest rates in March by 25 basis points and in May by 50 basis points. Mortgage rates have shot up, with the 30-year fixed rate home loan rising from 3.1 percent in November to 5.25 percent now. Stocks have fallen sharply, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down for eight straight weeks—the longest losing streak in 90 years.
Americans are extremely pessimistic on economic matters right now. Seventy-seven percent say they are pessimistic about the prices of goods and services, up from 70 percent in September. Sixty-eight percent say they are pessimistic about the national economy, up from 58 percent in September. Sixty-seven percent say they are pessimistic about the stock market, up from 49 percent in September. Fifty-seven percent say they are pessimistic about their retirement plans, up from 43 percent in the September poll.
A slight majority—52 percent—say they are optimistic about the local jobs market. That 48 percent are pessimistic is astonishing given the very low level of unemployment.
Inflation is far and away the most important issue, the poll results indicate. Eighty-three percent of those polled said they would like to see the Democratic party nominate candidates focused on fighting inflation, with taxing the wealthy as a focus a distant second at 61 percent. Eighty-one percent said they would like to see the Republican party nominate candidates focused on fighting inflation, followed by stopping illegal immigration at 59 percent.
Ninety-percent of self-identified Republicans say they want inflation to be a focus for their party’s nominees. Ninety-four percent of Trump voters say they want Republicans to focus on fighting inflation. A similar share of Democrats—89 percent—say they want Democratic nominees to focus on inflation. Likewise, 89 percent of Biden voters say Democrat nominees should focus on inflation.
The public is divided, however, on which party they trust more on the issue of inflation. Fifty-one percent trust the Republicans and 49 percent trust the Democrats.
Of the 69 percent who say the economy is bad, 39 percent say it is very bad and 30 percent say it is fairly bad. Just six percent say the economy is very good, and 20 percent said it is fairly good.
Sixty-four percent say they disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of the economy. Biden does slightly worse among women on this question, with 65 percent disapproval. Sixty-eight percent of white Americans say they disapprove of Biden’s handling of the economy, as do 65 percent of Hispanic Americans and 44 percent of black Americans.
Seventy percent say they disapprove of Biden’s handling of the issue of inflation, including 72 percent of whites, 70 percent of Hispanics, and 55 percent of blacks.
Seventy-four percent say things are going badly in America. Just 44 percent say they approve of the job Biden is doing as president overall, up two points from a month ago. Fifty-one percent say his actions as president are ‘incompetent’ and 57 percent describe Biden as ‘distracted.’