Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index averaged -20 in April, unchanged from March and only a slight improvement over readings of -22 in February and -27 in January. But while this is the first month since last September that monthly confidence in the economy did not improve, it remains steady at the highest level the polling organization has recorded since initiating tracking at the start of 2008.
Weekly averages give little sign of whether economic confidence will improve in May, Gallup said Wednesday. Confidence dipped to -21 in the last week of April after two -19 readings in the middle of the month. In contrast, confidence rose above -19 twice in March, which helped to offset a -25 reading at the beginning of the month.
With the presidential election in the offing, economic issues are of paramount importance to U.S. voters, according to a recent survey conducted for the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. More than eight-in-ten respondents said the economy and jobs were each “very important” to their vote. More than seven-in-10 cited the budget deficit.
First quarter wealth level studies conducted by Millionaire Corner echo these surveys. Eighty-one percent of households with a net worth between $100,000 and $1 million, not including primary residence, rank the prolonged economic downturn as the most pressing national concern. This is up from 74 percent last year. Similarly, 78 percent of Millionaires said they were most concerned about the prolonged economic downturn, up from 70 percent in 2011.
In households with a net worth between $5 million and $24.9 million, it is the national debt that is of paramount importance for 82 percent of these respondents.
Inflation is an issue of increasing concern in Millionaire household (64 percent vs. 55 percent a year ago).
All of the wealth levels are more concerned this year than last with the political environment, which reflects the frustration over gridlock in Washington, D.C. that they believe stalls economic progress.
This frustration no doubt accounts for the findings of a separate Millionaire Corner investor survey conducted last month in which 77.5 percent said they believe the U.S. economy will improve after the 2012 national elections. Almost half (40 percent) said that an end to the uncertainty over who will run the country will help boost the economy, which in turn will see greater consumer confidence (48 percent) and an improved political climate (36 percent).
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.