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65% of Americans think the US economy is in bad shape. You’re right?

The U.S. economy has improved tremendously since early 2021, and we are worlds away from where things lagged in the spring of 2020 when the pandemic first hit. Even so, the public seems less enthusiastic about the economic situation.

In a recent poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 65% of Americans rated the economy as bad and only 35% rated the economy as good. That’s a decrease from 45% of Americans in September who thought the economy was in good shape. This is also in line with public opinion in January and February, before coronavirus vaccines became widespread and the public faced a myriad of health and economic concerns.

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Why the negative outlook for the US economy?

A big reason so many Americans have rated the economy bad is because of high inflation. Nowadays, almost every common expense costs more, from gasoline to groceries to clothing. Many Americans struggle to make ends meet, especially without outside help, such as a fourth economic cycle check.

The consumer price index, an important measure of inflation, rose 5.4% year-on-year in September. That wasn’t exactly surprising, but it did validate the fact that it has become quite expensive to work.

Also disheartening is that in addition to so many Americans who rate the current economy as bad, 47% say they expect things to get worse in the next year. Only 30% of Americans expect the economy to improve over the next year.

Given the current economic situation, what should you do?

On the one hand, the fact that unemployment is falling nationally should serve as a comfort to many Americans. But those struggling with the increased cost of living can feel the strain – especially people living from paycheck to paycheck with no money in a savings account to act as a buffer.

If you’re not happy with the fact that your expenses are costing more, try negotiating some of your higher bills. Your landlord may agree to give you a modest reduction in your rent. Or you can look at your mortgage refinance to see if you can get a lower interest rate. If you do, you may be able to cut your monthly housing allowances.

Additionally, while the cost of living is this high, it is worth considering a part-time job to increase your income. Despite the negative public outlook, there are quite a few jobs out there, so it’s worth exploring different ways to get a higher paycheck overall. Often times, changing jobs is the best way to get a raise.

It is disheartening that so many Americans view the economy as ailing. If anything, one reason why things cost more these days is that the demand for them exceeds the supply available. Yes, there are ongoing supply chain problems, but that demand is also an indication that the economy is in decent shape as it means people have the money to and can spend. Still, it’s hard to change public perception. Until inflation begins to subside, Americans may continue to feel that the economy in general is in bad shape.

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