PewResearch Report Economic Views

Released: April 7, 2011

Economic Views Sag, Obama Rating Slips

Pocketbook Concerns: Prices Matter More than Jobs

With the public growing more anxious about the economy and concerned about overseas commitments, Barack Obama’s job rating has edged lower.

About as many now approve (47%) as disapprove (45%) of the way Obama is handling his job as president. In March, opinions about Obama’s job performance were more positive; 51% approved of his job performance and 39% disapproved. The current measure is similar to Obama’s ratings from last fall through early 2011.

On specific issues, Obama gets particularly negative ratings for his handling of the federal budget deficit (59% disapprove) and the overall economy (56% disapprove). He gets a mixed rating for his handling of the situation in Libya (41% approve, 46% disapprove). The survey also shows that an increasing number of Americans say the U.S. and its allies lack a clear goal in Libya. (See “Goal of Libyan Operation Less Clear to Public,” April 5.)

Despite recent signs of job growth, Americans are taking a more negative view of the national economy. The proportion rating economic conditions as “poor” has risen from 42% in February to 53% currently. Equally important, the public’s economic outlook has dimmed: 54% now say it will be a long time before the economy recovers, up 12 points from February. And there has been a rise in the percentage that expects their personal finances to get worse over the next year – from 26% in December to 33% currently.

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted March 30-April 3 among 1,507 adults, finds widespread concern about an array of financial problems – not just jobs, but also prices for gas and food.

Fully 69% say that gas prices affect their household’s financial situation a lot; 58% say the same about prices for food and consumer goods. By comparison, 42% say the job situation has a major impact on their personal financial situation; about as many (43%) say the federal budget deficit affects their personal financial situation a lot.

(Pew Research’s Weekly News Interest Index, released April 6, found that while the percentage of Americans who say they are hearing mostly bad news about the job situation has declined, more are hearing bad news about prices. )


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