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Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Confidence in the U.S. economy remains below its early 2020 levels, though signs of a market bounce-back have improved Americans' views on current economic conditions this past month, according to a Gallup survey out Thursday.

Why it matters: Americans' satisfaction with the state of the union is holding close to historic lows, even as sentiments surrounding the U.S. economy slightly improve based on bright spots in employment numbers and stock market rallies. That, combined with President Trump's job approval rating — which rests below 50% — is "problematic" for his re-election ambitions.

By the numbers:

  • Gallup's Economic Confidence Index is -10 this month, up from -16 in August. Confidence has improved from Gallup's April low of -33 during the countrywide shutdowns that came in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 14% of Americans currently report satisfaction with how things are going in the U.S., while 85% say they are dissatisfied.
  • This month, 31% of Americans rated current conditions as "excellent" or "good," while 34% consider them "poor."
  • Last month, 32% of survey respondents said the economy was improving, while 61% said it was declining. This month, 40% say the economy is "getting better" and 56% say it is "getting worse."

The big picture: Trump maintains a 42% job approval rating, but that sits below "the 50% level that essentially ensures incumbent reelection," Gallup writes.

  • Satisfaction is beneath its prior low point when an incumbent was reelected — 33% in 2012. It is also under the 22% threshold that George H.W. Bush had before he was defeated in 1992.
  • Economic confidence is not as low as it was during the Bush administration of 1992, when it was -37, but it is less than it had been for the last three successful incumbents.

The bottom line: "[W]hile Americans do not have to be highly satisfied with national conditions to reward an incumbent with a second term, the current level is below what it was in the past when the public voted incumbents out of office," Gallup writes.

Methodology: The Gallup Poll is based on telephone interviews conducted from Aug. 31-Sept. 13, with a sample of 1,019 adults. The margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

Gallup's Economic Confidence Index summarizes Americans' evaluations of current economic conditions and their assessment of whether the economy is improving or getting worse and has a theoretical range of -100 to +100.

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Joe Biden's economic team faces a daunting task helping the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs or otherwise been financially ravaged by the coronavirus. But most of them have first-hand crisis experience, dating back to when Barack Obama inherited a crumbling economy when he took office in 2009.

Why it matters: Most of President-elect Biden's economic nominees served in the Obama administration, and wish that they could have gone bigger to help America recover from the 2008 financial crisis. But it's not going to be easy for them to push through massive fiscal spending in 2021.

Updated 3 mins ago - Politics & Policy

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  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
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Biden Cabinet confirmation schedule: When to watch hearings

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Jan. 16 in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

The first hearings for President-elect Joe Biden's Cabinet nominations begin on Tuesday, with testimony from his picks to lead the departments of State, Homeland and Defense.

Why it matters: It's been a slow start for a process that usually takes place days or weeks earlier for incoming presidents. The first slate of nominees will appear on Tuesday before a Republican-controlled Senate, but that will change once the new Democratic senators-elect from Georgia are sworn in.