Fifty-seven percent of Americans say their standard of living is getting better, according to Gallup Daily tracking for the three-day period ending Feb. 4 — tying the highest three-day reading since Gallup began tracking the question in January 2008. Twenty-seven percent say their standard of living is getting worse and 15% say it is staying the same.
Americans’ optimism about their standard of living has been generally improving since the beginning of the new year. The trend also mirrors Americans’ increasing economic confidence.
Separately, 75% of Americans say they are satisfied with their standard of living. This percentage has been highly stable over time, but the current reading is on the high end of what Gallup has measured over the last five years.
Seventy six percent of respondents said that the economy is “still in recession” while just 21 percent said the recession is over, according to the Post-ABC poll. While 85 percent of Republicans feel the economy is still in recession so do 68 percent of Democrats and 77 percent of independents.
Seventy nine percent of people with a household income under $50,000 say the economy is still in a recession, the same number of people who make between $50,000 and $100,000 who believe it is. Seventy six percent of men say the economy is in recession while 75 percent of women say the same.
What the consistency of those numbers suggest is that the belief that the economy remains caught in recession are neither unique to people of a certain partisan bent or those of a particular demographic group. And that’s a problem for President Obama.
But wait, you say. The recession officially ended in June 2009. And, you add, the vast majority of people don’t even know that a recession is defined as “a period of general economic decline; typically defined as a decline in [Gross Domestic Product] for two or more consecutive quarters.”
True and true. And, in terms of politics, not terribly significant. As we have written many times before, the politics of the economy are dominated by perception not reality. If people feel like the economy is still in recession then it doesn’t matter a whole heck of a lot whether economists agree or not.
And that’s why the fact that three-quarters of the American public think the economy is still struggling has to be of real concern for President Obama and his reelection campaign team. (Of course, there are other numbers out there that suggest economic confidence is strengthening.)