Feb 9, 2023 - Economy

Half of Americans have the financial blues

Share of Americans who say they are financially worse off than a year ago
Data: Gallup; Chart: Nicki Camberg/Axios

In a new survey, 50% of Americans told Gallup they're financially worse off now than last year. That's the highest percentage since the Great Recession.

Why it matters: We're not in a recession, but people have the financial blues for a bunch of reasons. And, though the president touted his economic record this week in the State of the Union, it's a tough sell — especially across the aisle.

  • 61% of Republicans said they were financially worse off this year compared to 37% of Democrats.

What he's saying: "We are the only country that has emerged from every crisis stronger than when we entered it," Biden said Tuesday night.

  • "That is what we are doing again. Two years ago, our economy was reeling. As I stand here tonight, we have created a record 12 million new jobs, more jobs created in two years than any president has ever created in four years."

The big picture: "Democrats generally rate their finances better than Republicans do when a Democratic president is in office," Gallup noted in a similar report last year. "And the reverse is usually true under Republican presidential administrations."

Yes, but: Partisanship is just one reason for this much pessimism in an economy that's — and this is worth emphasizing — not in a recession.

  • High costs of living and last year’s steep drop in stock prices seem to be overshadowing record-low unemployment — leaving Americans profoundly bummed about the economy.
  • Part of this is "pandemic paranoia," as Axios' Hope King wrote recently. Americans are still getting over one of the most dispiriting, dislocating and uncertain eras of their lifetime.

By the numbers: The Gallup data is from a poll conducted from Jan. 2-22, after a year of rising prices, particularly for food and gas, which made it harder for many to afford the basics.

  • The numbers also skew along income lines: 61% of lower-income Americans said they were worse off, compared to 49% of folks in the middle and 43% of high-income earners.

What to watch: Next week, we'll get fresh data on inflation, an increasingly important indicator of the American vibe.

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