More than 8 in 10 Americans hate this economy. That’s the highest number since the poll began
Pessimism about the U.S. economy is at its highest level in 50 years amid decades-high inflation rates and rising interest rates.
Roughly 83% of respondents said the state of the economy was poor or not so good, according to a new poll from the Wall Street Journal and NORC at the University of Chicago. That’s the highest dissatisfaction level since NORC—one of the largest independent research organizations in the U.S.—began conducting the poll in 1972.
In addition, more than a third of respondents said they are not satisfied at all with their financial situation. Forty-six percent said they have no chance at improving their standard of living this year, and 38% said their financial situation is worse now than it was in the past few years—the first time since the aftermath of the global financial crisis in 2008, according to WSJ’s reporting.
The poll surveyed a random sampling of more than 1,000 adults over two full weeks in May, with a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points, according to WSJ.
Inflation is the biggest driving factor behind the poll’s results, according to NORC vice president of public affairs and media research Jennifer Benz, who spoke to WSJ about the survey’s findings. Though inflation slowed in April following seven months of consecutive gains, consumer prices jumped 8.3% from 12 months earlier. In March, the 8.5% year-over-year surge was the highest rate since 1981.
The high rates are continuing to put financial pressure on American households. At $4.87, the national average price of a gallon of regular gas continues to rise to record highs, according to AAA. In March, experts told Fortune that the trend will likely continue into the summer, with prices expected to surpass $5 across a large part of the country over the next several months, potentially forcing more Americans to cut back on spending.
With November’s midterm elections looming large for President Joe Biden, inflation continues to be a problem for Biden and the Democratic party as they try to maintain a majority in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
Last week, Biden said in a WSJ op-ed that inflation is his “top economic priority” and outlined his plan to fix the issue—including a three-pronged plan aiming to lower the cost of everyday goods, reduce the national deficit, and allow the Federal Reserve to take the necessary steps to control soaring prices.
In May, the Fed raised its benchmark interest rate by half a percentage point to help combat inflation, the most since 2000. Critics have previously said the Fed reacted too slowly to the growing inflation rates last year.
Despite Americans’ pessimism toward the country’s economic state, the latest U.S. jobs report showed 390,000 job gains in May, outpacing expectations from experts. Job growth last month was largely led by steady hiring in leisure and hospitality, business services, and education and health care, Bloomberg reported.
The encouraging job market was reflected in the WSJ–NORC poll, in which about 67% of respondents said it would be somewhat or very easy to find a new job with about the same income and benefits.
Unemployment rates held at 3.6% last month, and the share of the population that is working or looking for work rose to 62.3%, according to the latest U.S. jobs report.
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