All the Economic Cheerleading Isn’t Fooling Americans
While economists got out their pom-poms last week to celebrate the news that official unemployment is only 9.7 percent (while skillfully ignoring the increase in underemployment and the 40 percent of the unemployed who have been that way for six months or more), Americans weren’t buying their routine. A new Rasmussen poll shows that despite official optimism, 34 percent of Americans think unemployment will be worse in a year. While 29 percent of those polled think that unemployment will go down, another 29 percent think that unemployment will remain more or less the same — which it what economists think, too, when they are not cheering on the markets.
Those with experience job hunting don’t care if official statistics say that job openings were up 7.6 percent in January: 53 percent of the unemployed think the job market is worse than last year, and they’re right. The Labor Department says that there are 5.5 unemployed people competing for every opening, up from 1.7 at the the beginning of the recession. Some 15 percent of unemployed people say it’s better now and 29 percent think it’s similar.
Republicans and independents are more likely to be bearish about the economy, and more likely to know someone who lost a job and gave up looking in frustration. Of course, 45 percent of Americans still believe that it’s possible for someone who wants a job to find a job despite all evidence to the contrary — and Rasmussen doesn’t break that stat down by party affiliation.