Americans’ Glasses Slightly Less Rosy on Economy

(CN) – Though the public’s perception of the economy has gradually tilted increasingly positive since President Donald Trump took office in 2017, the number of Americans who say the economy is doing well dipped significantly for the first time on his watch this summer, according to a poll out Wednesday.

The telephone survey by SSRS, a Pennsylvania research firm that has conducted surveys since 1997 for CNN, shows 65% of Americans see economic conditions as somewhat good (41%) or very good (24%). A third of the nation, 33%, sees poor economic conditions. Among those, 22% said conditions are somewhat poor, and 11% deemed the economy very poor.

Fifty-six percent believe the economy will improve in the next year, while 40% think things will be worse, the poll said.

But George Hammond, director of the University of Arizona Eller College of Management’s Economic and Business Research Center, cautioned against trusting consumers’ views about the economy, noting a “disconnect” between this poll and views among economists.

A growing number of economists believe there will be a recession next year, a view largely opposite of the general public in the CNN poll, although consumers’ views about the future are a good indicator of one thing – current spending habits, Hammond said.

“If you’re less optimistic about the future, or more optimistic, that’s likely to influence what you do today,” he said.

The downward shift in consumer views about the economy caps a gradual upward trend since Trump’s election. In January 2012, just 18% said the economy was doing well, and 80% said it was not. The number generally rose through President Barack Obama’s second term and Trump’s first two years.

While just 40% of respondents approve of the president’s overall job performance, down from 43% in the same poll in April, May and June, 50% still think he is handling the economy well, the poll shows. Six percent have no opinion on his handling of the economy.

Just 37% said Trump is handling immigration well, down from 40% in June and 42% in April, while 58% disapprove. Those immigration approval and disapproval numbers reflect a basic pattern of hovering within five points in the poll since Trump took office.

On the question, “Do you favor or oppose stricter gun control laws?” 60% said favor (41% strongly favor), and 36% opposed (21% strongly opposed) – a big shift from April, when 70% favored stricter laws and 27% opposed them. Those numbers also buck a trend since 2014 of more and more people favoring stricter gun control, the poll shows.

Americans were evenly divided on whether stricter gun control laws would reduce gun deaths: 49% said yes, and 48% no.

The telephone poll, conducted for CNN Aug. 15-21 by the Glen Mills, Pennsylvania research firm SSRS, included 1,001 interviews – 650 via cell phone and 351 via landlines. Democrats comprised 28 percent of the sample, Republicans 26 percent, independents and other parties 46 percent.

The margin of error is 3.7%.


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