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Americans Less Pessimistic About Economy

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Americans Less Pessimistic About Economy

Last month’s Harris Poll found consumers feeling, if not optimistic, at least less pessimistic about the coming year than they felt at the same time last year.

In December 2014, when people were asked whether they thought the economy would improve during the year ahead, 28% said they did expect economic improvement. Twenty-three percent thought the economy would get worse, and the rest thought it would stay about the same.

While those numbers don’t sound especially sunny, compared with last year’s, there are some bright spots. In December 2013, 36% of poll respondents said the economy would get worse during the next year.

Attitudes divided along political lines

When looking at people’s politics, the picture fills in a bit more. Democrats are much more optimistic about the economic future, with 42% of them feeling it will improve. Only 17% of Republicans felt the economy was likely to get better in 2015. Twenty-seven percent of Republicans predict economic gloom for the coming year, while 14% of Democrats took the glass-half-empty position and said the economy would worsen in 2015.

Close to home

Shrinking the view from the world to people’s living rooms, 22% of those surveyed said their personal financial situation was likely to look up over the next six months, 56% said it would stay the same, and 21% said it would get worse. Last year, 30% of respondents expected their personal financial picture to get dimmer, indicating again that while people may not be optimistic, the pessimism is lessening.

Financial resolutions for 2015

For the coming year, fewer people have resolved to cut back on spending—a possible good sign for the economy. In December 2013, 45% of people vowed to spend less during the coming year. But in December 2014, that number dropped to 38%.

Paying down debt is a priority for many (35%), as is saving more money (36%), and a smaller percentage are planning to put more funds away for retirement (21%). Fifteen percent said they would get rid of one or more of their credit cards in 2015. Thirteen percent planned to increase their home’s worth with home improvement projects.

Intention and follow-through

For perspective on these plans, the poll asked people whether they had followed through on similar resolutions made a year ago. While over 40% planned to cut back on spending, only 15% said they actually did. Thirty-seven percent resolved to pay down debt, but only 15% did. Twenty-four percent put more away in savings, although 35% had planned to fatten their piggy banks. And only 9% of people got rid of a credit card, compared with 15% who said they would.

The Harris Poll was conducted online between December 10 and 15, 2014 and surveyed 2,255 adults across the United States.

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