Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Economic Outlook

So Wall Street seems to be doing okay, but what about Main Street?

My own anecdotal evidence suggests Main Street is seriously suffering, especially on jobs (which, to be fair, always lag as an economic indicator). But what people know about the economy, at least according to the polls, says it's not as bad as I think.

Asked earlier this month how worried they are over the direction of the nation's economy, 78 percent said they are "somewhat" or "very" worried about the direction. That's pretty awful. But earlier this year the number was 81 percent, and in the Fall of '08 it was 88 percent. So you can argue there's improvement, at least in perception. And the "very worried" category has dropped from 48 to 36 percent. One of those good news-bad news things: people's perception is improving, but over a third still see the economy as crap. Asked about their own economic condition we see similar numbers. In the latest poll, 64 percent are "very" or "somewhat" worried about their situation (who isn't?), but that's a bit better than the 70 percent earlier in the year.

While the above ABC/Washington Post poll contains glimmers of hope, at least in perception, according to an Ipsos/McClatchy poll, the proportion of people who believe the economy has "stabilized" has inched down to 49 percent. I find that one fascinating.

In part we see a trickle down effect. Experts say we've avoided the worst, we see green shoots, and every day the Dow seems to be doing okay, and even while people individually are struggling there is a message (outside of Hannity, Limbaugh, et al.,), that things are looking better. Or at least catastrophe has been averted. So the trickle down message reaching some, at least in perception, is one of cautious hope. And if there's one thing Americans know, it's cautious hope for the future.

Data drawn from here.

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