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Americans Feeling Better (But Not Good) about the Economy

by Ruy Teixeira

There’s no doubt Americans are feeling better about the economy these days, probably driven as much by recently falling gas prices as anything else. But “better” doesn’t mean “good”. Consider these data from recent Gallup polls:

1. While 39 percent now term economic conditions excellent or good–the most since May of 2005–61 percent still term conditions only fair or poor.

2. Similarly, 37 percent now say economic conditions are getting better which is, again, the most positive reading since May. But that’s 19 points below the 56 percent who still think conditions are getting worse.

3. Two-fifths now say it’s a good time to find a quality job–this time, the best showing since June of last year. But 56 percent still say it’s a bad time to find such a job.

Also note the comparison to the last part of the Clinton years–when the economy was doing much, much better than it is today or has at any time in the Bush years. In the 1998-2000 period, 60-74 percent of the public routinely termed economic conditions excellent or good and 50-69 percent typically reported that conditions were getting better, running 12-46 points ahead of those saying conditions were getting worse.

My, how times have changed. And not for the better