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theodore M I R A L D I mpa ... editor, publisher, writer. katherine molé mfa ... art director
Friday, January 31, 2014
Public’s Views of Economic News Low
More Hearing Negative than Positive News about Jobs
As the Federal Reserve meets to discuss whether to keep up its $85-billion-a-month bond-buying program, the public’s perceptions of recent economic news have shown little change.
Six-in-ten (60%) are hearing a mix of good and bad news about the economy. Far more say they are hearing mostly bad news about the economy (31%) than mostly good news (7%). These views have not changed much over the past two years, although the percentage hearing mostly bad news is up five points since August.
The new national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted Dec. 12-15 among 1,000 adults, finds that perceptions of recent job news remain more negative than positive. Currently, 40% are hearing mostly bad news about jobs, while just 14% are hearing mostly good news; 41% say the news is mixed. These views also have changed little over the past year.
News about prices for food and consumer goods also is seen as more bad than good: 45% say recent news about prices has been mostly bad while just 9% say it has been mostly good, with 40% saying it has been mixed.
The stock market has made major gains in 2013, but just 17% are hearing mostly good news about financial markets; 28% say the news is mostly bad and 46% say it is a mix of good and bad.
Among other economic sectors, views of news about real estate values continue to be among the most positive. About one-in-four (27%) are hearing mostly good news about real estate values and 23% are hearing mostly bad news, while 40% say the news is a mix.
A greater share of the public is hearing good news (24%) than bad news (17%) about retail sales. Although this rating is roughly in line with last December’s views, it is a decline from two Decembers ago, when about half (51%) were hearing mostly good news about retail sales.
The public is hearing less negative news about gas prices than earlier this year, when prices were much higher. Currently, 36% are hearing bad news about gas prices, down from 57% in June and 74% in March.
Income Differences in Views of News about Real Estate, Markets and Jobs
There are no significant differences across income categories in overall perceptions of economic news. But people with higher incomes are more likely than others to report hearing good news about some economic sectors. Among those with family incomes of $75,000 or more, 37% are hearing mostly good news about real estate values – about twice the 19% share of adults with family incomes less than $30,000 who are hearing mostly good news.
Those with higher incomes are also roughly twice as likely to be hearing good news about financial markets: 27% of those with incomes of $75,000 or more say this, compared with 14% of adults with $30,000-$74,999 annual incomes and 13% of those whose families earn less than $30,000.
The Week’s News
About one-in-four adults (26%) closely followed news about the economy last week, while an equal share closely followed news about how the rollout of the 2010 health care law was going. A smaller percentage of the public — 17% —closely followed negotiations about a new budget deal in Congress.
A week after the death of former South African President Nelson Mandela, one-in-five (20%) very closely followed his memorial service and other news about his death. Fully 54% of non-Hispanic blacks followed news about Mandela very closely last week, compared with 14% of non-Hispanic whites.
The analysis in this report is based on telephone interviews conducted December 12-15, 2013 among a national sample of 1,000 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia (500 respondents were interviewed on a landline telephone, and 500 were interviewed on a cell phone, including 234 who had no landline telephone). The survey was conducted by interviewers at Princeton Data Source under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates International. A combination of landline and cell phone random digit dial samples were used; both samples were provided by Survey Sampling International. Interviews were conducted in English. Respondents in the landline sample were selected by randomly asking for the youngest adult male or female who is now at home. Interviews in the cell sample were conducted with the person who answered the phone, if that person was an adult 18 years of age or older. For detailed information about our survey methodology, see http://people-press.org/methodology/.
The combined landline and cell phone sample are weighted using an iterative technique that matches gender, age, education, race, Hispanic origin and nativity and region to parameters from the 2011 Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and population density to parameters from the Decennial Census. The sample also is weighted to match current patterns of telephone status and relative usage of landline and cell phones (for those with both), based on extrapolations from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey. The weighting procedure also accounts for the fact that respondents with both landline and cell phones have a greater probability of being included in the combined sample and adjusts for household size among respondents with a landline phone. Sampling errors and statistical tests of significance take into account the effect of weighting.
The following table shows the unweighted sample sizes and the error attributable to sampling that would be expected at the 95% level of confidence for different groups in the survey:
Sample sizes and sampling errors for other subgroups are available upon request. In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.