Gallup: Americans Are Better Off Than Four Years Ago

Matt Vasilogambros
National Journal

Several economic factors and mood indicators are better today than when President Obama took office nearly four years ago, according to a new analysis by Gallup.

Although a majority of Americans feel they are worse off than they were four years ago, according to a recent USA Today/Gallup poll, economic confidence and the job creation index -- gauges that have gone up and down several times over the president’s term -- are now up.

Gallup’s economic confidence index, based on how people rate economic conditions today and whether they think things are getting better or worse,  shot up 11 points in the last week from August, to minus-18 on Sept. 9. That compares to minus-58 in February 2009 just after Obama was inaugurated.

Gallup says this latest surge can be partially attributed to the Democratic National Convention, which boosted confidence in the economy after several speeches touting the recovery under Obama. Confidence rose sharply just after the first night, the evening First Lady Michelle Obama addressed the convention.

In addition to a rise in the economic confidence index, the percentage of people who are satisfied with the way things are going in the United States sits at 25 percent, up from 15 percent when the president took office. However, that is not the highest level of satisfaction during Obama's term; it rose to 36 percent several months after he was inaugurated.

The percentage of Americans who think their standard of living is “getting better” has risen 13 percentage points since Obama took office, to 48 percent, though that number is down from 52 percent earlier this year. Those who are “satisfied” with their standard of living remain close to the same level of 73 percent in February 2009.

Gallup’s job creation index has also increased steadily over Obama's term, registering at 19. The index is measured by the number of people who say their employer is hiring new people and expanding the workforce minus the number who say their employer is letting people go. When Obama took office, this meter was at minus-5.

The only indicator that has gone down since Obama took office is his approval rating, which has fallen 19 points to 45 percent. Though it went up to 50 percent after the death of Osama bin laden, it went down shortly after and remained low, especially after the debt ceiling crisis. Gallup's tracking poll on Tuesday showed Obama's approval rating back up at 50 percent as a result of a convention bounce.

Job creation and the standard of living measurement are the two indicators that are most positive for the president, and overall show that Americans are better off than four years ago when looking at economic and mood indicators.

Last week’s economy confidence index was based on surveys of 3,330 adults Sept. 3-Sept. 9, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

The latest poll to measure satisfaction with the economy interviewed 1,012 adults Aug. 9-11. The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The job creation, standard of living and Obama job approval measures each had a margin of error of plus or minus 1 percentage point.