While the future of the nation’s economy is still in question, Americans are at least feeling better about it.
According to a Pew Research Center poll conducted Feb. 8-12 of this year, optimism about the national economy, which sagged last last year, has rebounded, with 44 percent of the approximately 1,500 surveyed say they expect economic conditions to have improved by this time next year. That’s up from only 34 percent who said the same last month and 28 percent who felt that way in December.
More than half of the respondents say that the economy is in recovery (25 percent) or that it will recover soon (29 percent). In April 2011, only 44 percent believed a recovery was underway or would occur soon, Pew reports.
Despite the optimism expressed by those surveyed, current views of the economy remain overwhelmingly negative, according to Pew: only 11 percent say today’s economic conditions are excellent or good, which is consistent with opinions over the last four years. And while those rating current economic conditions as “poor” has fallen from 56 percent to 43 percent since August, it is virtually unchanged from a year ago (42 percent).
And economic optimism is not guaranteed to last, as history has proven. From October 2008 through April 2010, 40 percent or more said they expected economic conditions to get better in the next year. But by last summer, the percentage expecting things to improve had fallen to around 30 percent, according to Pew.
Here’s a closer look at how optimism about the national economy has fluctuated over the last two years:
Source: Pew Research Center Feb. 8-12, 2012. Q3. Figures may not add to 100% because of rounding.