Americans' confidence in the economy has fallen to what likely is the lowest level since the end of the Great Recession in early 2009, Gallup announced Tuesday.
New Gallup poll results showed that the Economic Confidence Index (ECI) in May measured minus-45, down from minus-39 in each of the past two months.
The index — which uses a scale of plus-100 (if all respondents say the economy is excellent or good and that it is getting better) to minus-100 (if all say it is poor and getting worse) — is a summary of Americans' ratings of current economic conditions and whether the economy is getting better or worse.
The latest poll was conducted May 2-22, a span that included record-high gas prices, rising inflation, government first-quarter reports of declining economic growth, and a slumping stock market.
And although unemployment was relatively low, supply-chain problems continued as employers struggled to find workers to fill needed jobs.
"Gallup has measured Americans' perceptions of the economy on its multiday telephone surveys since 1992, but did so infrequently between 2009 and 2017," Gallup said. "It is possible that confidence was lower at some point during those years than it is now.
"Confidence was clearly lower now than in February 2009, when the index registered -64 in that month's Gallup survey."
The lowest ECI was recorded in 2008 at -72 during the Great Recession.
In the new poll results, only 14% of U.S. adults rated economic conditions as either "excellent" or "good," while 46% said conditions were "poor," with another 39% rating them as "only fair."
The ECI takes into account the net of excellent and good versus poor responses, which is -32 this month. In April, 20% of Americans rated the economy positively and 42% said it was poor, a net of -22.
Only 20% of Americans said the economy was getting better, and 77% said it was getting worse, essentially the same as in April and March, Gallup results showed.
When asked, "What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?" the top responses were:
- 19% — the government/poor leadership.
- 18% — high cost of living/inflation.
- 12% — the economy in general.
"Economic growth contracted in the first quarter, and if the second quarter shows a similar decline in economic output, the U.S. will meet the usual definition of a recession used by economists," Gallup said. "Such a designation could erode U.S. economic confidence even further."
The poll surveyed 1,007 registered voters. The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.
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