Next month will mark the seventh anniversary of the Great Recession's official end. However, as a recently released poll indicates, many Americans are in no mood to celebrate.
A survey by a partnership between the Associated Press and the University of Chicago's NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 6 in 10 respondents consider the national economy to be in poor shape, and less than 25 percent expect next year to be better. Not surprisingly, wealthier consumers were more optimistic about their economic circumstances than people who aren't as well-off.
The survey found that two-thirds of respondents with household incomes more than $100,000 say the economy is at least halfway back from the recession, while most people who earn less than $30,000 say they have seen little to no evidence of a recovery.
Interestingly, Americans are far more optimistic about their personal finances, with 66 percent describing them as "good" even though wages have been stagnant for more than a decade. The AP-NORC poll found that 46 percent of respondents reported that their salary stayed the same, while 16 percent experienced pay cuts.
The survey of more than 1,000 adults is the latest indication of the unease that many Americans feel about the economy's futures amid a U.S. presidential election that's expected to intensify in the coming months.
The country's economy has been a focal point of the campaigns of Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and the presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump. Indeed, a recent Gallup Poll found that an average of 27 percent of all Republicans and 13 percent of all Democrats felt that the economy was the biggest problem facing the U.S.
Their pessimism is understandable.
The U.S. GDP rose at a disappointing 0.5 percent annualized rate in the first quarter as businesses held off on investment, China's growth continued to slow and the strong dollar dragged down U.S. corporate profits. The S&P 500 has barely budged this year after a rocky start that spooked many investors. Spending by businesses on basic equipment fell at its steepest pace since 2009.
While U.S. businesses added 160,000 jobs in April, the fewest in seven months, unemployment held steady at 5 percent. The Department of Labor also revised downward reported job gains from the previous two months, which often happens with these reports.
Many economists, though, don't see a recession looming for many reasons, including the better-than-expected increase in April retail sales and March figure's upward revision.
"The April employment report wasn't the best," said Chris Christopher, director of U.S. Macro & Global Economics at IHS. "But when you look at the April retail sales data, it shows that the consumer came back pretty strong."
Many economists expect the economy to improve in the second half of the year and for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates in June.
"GDP growth is going to rebound," said Scott Hoyt of Moody's Analytics in an interview, adding that the latest GDP figures were affected by weather and probably will be adjusted upward. "Employment growth has been strong," he added. "There is no need for a rebound there. Labor markets are tightening, and wage growth is going to pick up."
The question is, though, will Americans feel it?