That the economy is struggling is not news, but with each downbeat headline or dire report, the public’s perception of economic news is getting worse, according to a new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.
Thirty-seven percent of respondents—the highest to date this year--reported that they are hearing mostly bad news about the economy, up from 32 percent last month, The survey of 1,012 adults also found that 55 percent said they have been hearing mostly bad news about jobs, up from 38 percent in March.
Some good news: The percentage of those who said they are hearing mostly bad news about gasoline prices has dropped from 85 percent in March to 48 percent. The public’s perception of news about the economy is more positive than it was last fall, Pew finds, but this marks the second consecutive year when perceptions of news about the economy have grown more negative in the late spring.
Just last Friday, the government issued its report that the economy added only 69,000 jobs in May, triggering a stock market slide that erased 2012’s gains. Meanwhile, the European Union crisis continued to unfold with dire forecasts about Greece running out of money. That ongoing crisis is the news story that is most affecting Affluent investor’s economic outlook, according to Millionaire Corner’s most recent survey.
The second most-closely watched story is unemployment, investors said, followed by the political environment, which is defined by how lawmakers work, or don’t work, together to get the economy back on track.
The percentage of those who say they are hearing mostly bad news about the job situation is on par with numbers recorded in late 2011 (51 percent in December and 64 percent in November, Pew said). This measure hit a peak last August (74 percent) amid the debt ceiling debate that led to the unprecedented lowering of the U.S. credit rating and subsequent market volatility.
While perceptions of the news about the price of gasoline have fluctuated with prices at the pump, perceptions of news about real estate values and consumer prices have shown less volatility, Pew finds. Forty-three percent say they are hearing mostly bad news about real estate values while 36 percent say they are hearing mixed news. Fourteen percent said they are hearing mostly good news, the highest percentage since spring 2010.
Nearly half (46 percent) say they are hearing mostly bad news about food and consumer goods prices, down slightly since March (50 percent), and more sharply since last August (62 percent)
Not surprisingly (and this goes to negative perceptions over the political environment), Republicans are significantly more likely than Democrats to say that news about the economy is bad. Just over half (52 percent) say recent news about the economy has been mostly bad, up from 33 percent in March, while Democrats’ views of economic news has changed little, with 23 percent saying economic news is mostly bad, compared with 19 percent who said so in March.
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.