Bi-weekly Public Opinion Roundup

Americans are still pessimistic about employment and the economy, according to several recent polls. A majority agree that young people will not achieve the same standard of living as the previous generation or that it is more likely that families will suffer "economic reversals" in the next 5 to 10 years. Support for the stimulus bill has dropped and opinion is now deadlocked on the bill, though some aspects, such as spending on infrastructure and public works, remain popular among a majority. A majority of Americans think that some of the recent federal measures should be lasting, while fewer Americans – although still a majority – feel that President Obama's policies will help in these tough economic times.

Jobs
A nationwide poll conducted in October by Gallup, consisting of 1,013 telephone interviews with adults age 18 and older, found that a small share of Americans believe now is a good time to find a quality job (10%). This percentage has been wavering between 9% and 11% since February 2009, and has dropped dramatically since January 2008 (33%). Findings from an October nationwide Pew Research Center survey of 1,500 adults are consistent with this trend: 84% of Americans say that today good jobs were difficult to find, up from 73% in July 2008 acording to another Pew survey.

The Economy
There is broad consensus among Americans that economic hardship and instability is here to stay, and may get worse.  In addition, people agree that they are changing their individual spending and saving habits in order to get through rough times now and in the future.

“How the economy would look after the recession”: 

63% of respondents expressed that things would be different
31% said things would not change
90% felt that the federal deficit would remain large

Recovery will be slow and steady:

A large majority (65%) say that the economy would recover slowly and steadily over the next five years,
15% that the economy will slow down and worsen,
11% that it will remain the same as now,
8% that it will bounce back and grow.

(Source: October Allstate/National Journal survey)

The Economy’s Impact on the Individual
Most Americans reported that, due to difficult times, they:

Reduce individual spending (80%),
Save more (58%),
Wait longer to make major purchases (72%).

In the next 5 to 10 years, 79% agreed it is more likely that families will suffer “economic reversals”—such as loss of a job or foreclosure on a home, agreed that young people will not achieve the same standard of living as the previous generation (69%), and expressed the expectation that their taxes would increase due to the deficit or additional program spending (86%).

(Source: October Allstate/National Journal survey)

Expectations From the Government
Divisions arose when asked to choose between three options of what respondents would like to see in regards to government action in helping the economy:

36%: “An agenda focused on more tax cuts for families and business and less regulation on business”
34%: “An agenda focused on more programs for education, infrastructure and scientific research”
24%: “An agenda focused on reducing the federal deficits by both reducing government spending and increasing taxes”

(Source: October Allstate/National Journal survey)

The Stimulus Package, Longevity of Recent Federal Measures and President Obama

Support for the stimulus bill has dropped and opinion is now deadlocked on the bill, though some aspects, such as spending on infrastructure and public works, remain popular among a majority. A majority of Americans think that some of the recent federal measures should be lasting, while fewer Americans – although still a majority – feel that President Obama's policies will help in these tough economic times.

44% of Americans approve of the stimulus plan and 44% disapprove; In March 56% thought that the stimulus plan was a “good idea”,
70% assert that spending on infrastructure is “good for the economy” (77% said in March that it is “is the right thing to do”).

(Source: October Pew Survey)

Policies around regulating banks and financial institutions should be lasting (66%)
Subsidization of technological innovations, especially green technologies, should be lasting (63%)
Government bailouts of large companies should be temporary (81%)
Increasing the deficit to stimulate the economy when consumer spending is down should be temporary (74%)
54% are in favor of stricter regulation of financial business (down from 60% in April)—(October Pew Survey).

(Source: October Allstate/National Journal survey unless indicated otherwise)

57% are optimistic that Obama's policies will help the economy (down from 66% in April)
59% are confident that Obama can fix the economy (down from 70% in April)

(Source: October Pew Survey)

Read more at The Opportunity Agenda website.

Tags: economics, gallup, jobs, obama, Opportunity, Pew, public opinion, stimulus (all tags)

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