Economy Watch: Americans Generally Optimistic About Economy

A new Pew Research Center report reveals that nearly six in 10 Americans believe the current economic situation is good, given that the U.S. economy has experienced 80 months of consistent job growth. However, the same participants weren't as optimistic about future prospects.

By Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor

Source: Pew Research Center
Source: Pew Research Center

Optimism is one of the driving forces behind modern economic growth, and indirectly a driver of commercial leasing, especially office and retail. The better people feel about the economy, the better the economy is likely to be. A new report by the Pew Research Center finds a majority of Americans are now optimistic about the economy, with a caveat or two.

Nearly six in 10 Americans (58 percent) currently believe the economic situation in the U.S. is good, Pew reported. That’s a full turnaround. The U.S. economy has experienced roughly 80 months of job growth and the unemployment rate has dropped into the 4 percent range. In the spring of 2009, when the jobless rate was 9.3 percent, just 17 percent of Americans thought economic conditions were good. In 2007, before the economic downturn, 50 percent said conditions were favorable.

Remarkably, there’s no major partisan difference in public views of the economy, Pew also found. Roughly six in ten Republicans (61 percent) and Democrats (60 percent) say conditions are good. But positive sentiment among Republican Party supporters has roughly doubled in the past year, up from 31 percent in 2016.

Americans aren’t so sanguine about the future, however. When asked whether children growing up now will be better off financially than their parents, roughly a two-thirds majority of Americans said no. People over 50 in particular feel uncertain about the next generation’s prospects, with only 32 percent of that age group asserting that things will be better for today’s children.