Month: October 2013
October 14, 2013
Job creation and hiring top Americans’ list of what federal gov’t, businesses can do
WASHINGTON, D.C. — As lawmakers in Washington focus on opening the government after the Oct. 1 partial shutdown, raising the debt limit, and debating the merits of the Affordable Care Act, Americans say creating jobs is the most important way for the federal government to improve the economy.
These results are based on a Gallup poll conducted Sept. 19-20, prior to the government shutdown on Oct. 1, in which Americans were asked in an open-ended format to say the most important thing the federal government can do to improve the U.S. economy. The 22% who mentioned creating jobs were not more specific about how this could be accomplished. Previous Gallup research has shown that Americans favor spending government money on a series of job creation proposals, including lowering taxes for businesses that create jobs in the U.S. and a program that would employ people to work on infrastructure repair projects.
Second on Americans’ list of suggestions — that Congress should figure out how to cooperate and get things done — mirrors the types of responses Americans give when asked why they disapprove of the job Congress is doing. This also fits with the recent finding that Americans say dysfunction in government is the most important problem now facing the nation.
The next three recommendations have to do with how the government deals with the money it controls, including balancing the budget and cutting spending, changing the way Americans are taxed, and redirecting foreign aid monies to domestic concerns. The fact that a combined 21% of Americans focus on Congress working better together or balancing the budget suggests that a sizable minority see the current conflict in Washington as affecting the economy. This connection is reinforced by the recent and dramatic drop ineconomic confidence after the Oct. 1 shutdown.
Although defunding the healthcare law has been a controversial sticking point in the debate over funding the government and avoiding the shutdown, relatively few Americans (5%) mention repeal or taking other actions to improve healthcare as the best way to help the economy.
Americans’ Top Suggestion to Businesses: Hire More Workers
In the same poll, Gallup asked Americans what businesses and corporations themselves could do to improve the economy, and creating jobs again topped the list. Thirty-one percent of Americans say businesses can create jobs and hire more people, and 8% each cite bringing manufacturing back to the U.S. and paying higher wages.
Other suggestions with at least 5% of mentions deal with governmental, rather than business, actions, including changes to the healthcare law or system, and Congress and the government working together. Fewer Americans recommend that businesses treat their people better and watch their bottom line.
Americans have reacted negatively toward Washington politicians’ inability to work together to end the government shutdown and the current brinksmanship over the pending federal debt ceiling deadline. Thus, it is not surprising that some Americans see greater governmental cooperation and compromise as the best way for the federal government and corporations to improve the U.S. economy. Even so, at a time of decliningeconomic confidence, the public believes that creating jobs is the key to a robust economy.
President Barack Obama tried to refocus on the economy in a series of speeches this summer, but the Syrian conflict, controversy over the healthcare law in Congress, and fiscal debates have seemingly drawn attention away from his economic agenda. Americans who suggest that cooperation in Washington is the top way to improve the economy may feel that by quickly resolving issues such as the federal budget and the debt limit, lawmakers and business leaders may be able to turn their attention to improving the economy.
Expectations for future standard of living drops more than current satisfaction
PRINCETON, NJ — In yet another sign that partisan wrangling over the federal budget is rattling the American consumer, Gallup’s Standard of Living Index has tumbled eight points in the past month to 31, its lowest reading since January.
The index is a summary of whether Americans are satisfied with their current standard of living and perceive it as getting better or worse. Although the index has a theoretical maximum of 100 (and a theoretical minimum of -100), the highest it has been since tracking began in 2008 is 45, attained in May 2013.
The recent decline echoes sentiments seen in Americans’ broader attitudes about the U.S. economy, although the magnitude in the decline in the Standard of Living Index is not as great. Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index faltered during the run-up to the government shutdown in late September, and has fallen further in October since the shutdown began, for a total decline of 24 points since mid-September.
Mainly a Crisis of Optimism
Both components of the Standard of Living Index have soured since mid-September; however, the decline in Americans’ outlook for their standard of living has been steeper, dropping nine points, compared with a six-point drop for current satisfaction.
Longer term, since the start of August, Americans’ net satisfaction with their standard of living has varied relatively little — generally registering in a four-point range between 47 and 51, except for the one reading of 53 in mid-September. By contrast, net optimism about one’s standard of living has registered in a 12-point range, from scores of 27 to 15.
Index Is Down Among All Income Groups
The eight-point decline in the index over the past month is seen fairly evenly across major income groups. At the same time, perceptions of standard of living soured more with Democrats and Republicans than among independents, whose standard of living rating was already relatively low.
Gallup’s Standard of Living Index now matches the low for this year, last recorded in early January, shortly after the Congress passed an 11th-hour budget agreement that avoided sending the federal government over a so-called “fiscal cliff.” That kind of drama has been replayed in the past month with similar effects on Americans’ confidence in the economy and their standard of living. The good news is that, while the current Standard of Living Index — at 31 — is down from the heights it reached earlier this year, it remains higher than the lowest readings in each of the previous five years. This indicates that, while the bottom has not yet fallen out of Americans’ satisfaction with their standard of living, there is the capacity for it to fall even further.