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Americans feel uneasy as economic concerns grow — CBS News poll

CBS News poll: Americans feel uneasy as economic concerns grow00
CBS News poll: Americans feel uneasy as economic concerns grow 04:34

America's mood is uneasy and worried. Amid continued inflation and stock market declines, large majorities describe their mood as such, and the percentage who call the economy bad has hit highs for the Biden presidency. The number who say things in the country are going badly overall is at the highest level of President Biden's tenure, too, as pessimism about the market, the economy and prices drives views looking forward — and outweighs optimism about both jobs and coronavirus, as we head into summer.


Looking ahead, there is large — and growing — pessimism about the national economy, the stock market and inflation. In fact, outlook on the costs of things gets the most pessimism of the items tested, followed by pessimism about the national economy. 


Most are also pessimistic about their plans for retirement, and on the heels of a stock market downturn, two-thirds of those who have money invested in the market are pessimistic about it.

But there is optimism about both jobs — a message the White House has stressed — and the effort against COVID-19. It's just that those are both being somewhat outweighed right now in setting the public mood.


The public has never laid all the blame for inflation at the White House's door. And while most people continue to disapprove of the president's handling of inflation and the economy, those ratings have not moved much, for better or worse, perhaps because people remain pessimistic about those issues. 

Mr. Biden does get relatively higher marks for caring about people than he does for being quick to react to events (though neither finds a majority). In fact, as the administration has been critiqued for being slow to address inflation, that now echoes in the public's larger criticism directed at Mr. Biden, that he is slow to react generally. It's not just his political opponents who say this: more than a third of Democrats say it of Mr. Biden, too.


The worse people think the economy is, the less they think Mr. Biden is fighting hard enough to solve the nation's pressing problems.


We do see other ramifications of all this for the president within his own party: even though a president's own partisans typically paint rosier pictures of an economy, now just over half of Democrats rate the economy as bad for the first time in Mr. Biden's tenure. Most Democrats now say things in the country are going badly, as well, and that has a lot to do with how they feel about the economy. 

And some key groups who backed Mr. Biden in 2020 level this critique that he is slow to react include most young people, most Hispanic Americans and about half of Black Americans saying so. 


And while most Democrats do say Mr. Biden is fighting hard, key groups like young people and independents don't agree. While not a widely held view, there's a slight uptick in the number of Democrats who view Mr. Biden's actions as "distracted." Democrats who say Mr. Biden has been slow to react to events are particularly likely to say he's distracted — about half of them do.

Compared to inflation and the economy, Mr. Biden gets better marks for handling the situation with Ukraine and Russia. And he continues to get positive marks for handling the pandemic — about which the public is optimistic, despite the recent increase in cases in some areas. That mix keeps his overall approval in the low 40s, where it's been hovering since last fall.


This CBS News/YouGov survey was conducted with a nationally representative sample of 2,041 U.S. adult residents interviewed between May 18-20, 2022. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the U.S. Census American Community Survey and Current Population Survey, as well as to 2020 presidential vote. The margin of error is ±2.5 points.


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