Gallup’s U.S. Economic Confidence Index averaged −16 for the week ending April 24, down four points from the prior week and the lowest average in the year to date. The index component that measures respondents’ outlook for the economy is down to −25. The 2016 average index score is −11.
The index is comprised of two sub-scores: a current conditions score and an outlook score. The outlook score, as we’ve noted, is −25, equal to its lowest level in all of 2015. The current conditions score is −7, down from −4 in the prior week and near a 12-month low of −9 from last November.
Gallup noted that the decline in confidence began in late March and then observed:
Pessimism has increased despite a strong stock market in recent weeks and a persistent low unemployment rate. However, there have been reports of weak retail sales and expectations of low first quarter economic growth. Gas prices have also started to rise, although they remain well below where they were for most of the past decade. Finally, consistent statements from presidential candidates about how they would fix the U.S. economy if elected might play a part in keeping Americans’ economic optimism at lower levels.
Ironically perhaps, while Americans are worried about the economy, they don’t blame President Obama for their worries. Obama’s approval rating, according to Gallup, was 49% on Monday, more than three times the 15% approval rating for Congress. Gallup said:
[I]f maintained, the 34-percentage-point gap between Obama’s 49% average job approval rating thus far in 2016 and the 15% average approval rating for Congress would be the widest of Obama’s presidency, and one of the largest Gallup has measured since 1981.
Americans were more upbeat over the economy a year ago, but, as Gallup points out, the recent scores are not as low as the numbers recorded between 2008 and the fall of 2012.