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Snap Poll: Plurality rates nation’s economy as fair

Forty-seven percent of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll rate the state of the U.S. economy today as fair. Thirty-seven percent rate it good. Only 4 percent gave the economy an excellent rating, while 12 percent said it is poor.

Roughly half of respondents are optimistic about the prospects for the U.S. economy over the next 12 months. Slightly more than one in five are neutral, and 29 percent are pessimistic.

Last Friday’s employment report delivered positive news about the U.S. economy. Employers added 321,000 jobs, the most in nearly three years, and the unemployment rate remained at a six-year low of 5.8 percent. Through November, the U.S. economy has added more than 2.6 million jobs—the best hiring performance in 15 years.

The report pushed the stock market even higher. Both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 index posted new closing records.

Yet the employment report also showed that in November 2.8 million people—or nearly one-third of the unemployed—had been out of work for more than six months. Including involuntary part-time workers and people who have stopped looking for work, the jobless rate was 11.4 percent. And while hourly pay increased by the biggest amount since early 2013, the annual gain remains only slightly higher than the inflation rate.

Elsewhere globally, China’s growth has slowed, the 18-nation eurozone has barely grown in the last two quarters and Japan has slipped into recession.

Roughly 600 readers participated in this week’s poll, conducted Dec. 8 and 9.

Overall, how would you rate the U.S. economy today?
Excellent:  4%
Good:  37%
Fair:  47%
Poor:  12%

How do you personally feel about the prospects for the U.S. economy over the next 12 months?
Very optimistic  10%
Somewhat optimistic: 39% 
Neutral:  22%
Somewhat pessimistic:  22%

COMMENTS:
It is impossible to describe the economy in one word. It’s like saying if your head is in a freezer and your feet are in an oven, your temperature is average. There are good sectors and there are bad ones. The question is—do we try to keep alive the areas that are suffering (and always may be), or do we get out of the way of the hot sectors?
—Marc Sachdev, Ardent Learning

I am optimistic about the U.S. economy, but more training is required in the workforce to bring and keep manufacturing jobs in the United States. Every quarter in Rochester you hear the complaint from some manufacturers they can’t find employees with the right skills. More diverse training will create a more diverse and skilled work force ready for expansion and opportunities.
—Keith Newcomer

The true test will be when the Fed starts to raise interest rates and whether businesses start to raise wages. Both have to happen if the economy is going to be truly healthy.
—Hal Gaffin, Fairport

Way too much governmental regulation, taxation and interference in the private sector. Government should not pick winners and losers.
—John Costello

I think the improvements since Obama has been in power are amazing—so if the opposition does not continue to sabotage growth, we will all be better off.
—Stephanie Miles

The nation’s economy is probably most usefully regarded as a rigged game, one that more and more favors a smaller and smaller group of richer and richer rentiers. The New Deal may have inaugurated economic policies that made the nation prosperous in the last century, but all that has been pretty efficiently undermined by the government-hating, union-hating supply-side flimflam we were sold in the Reagan era. Now a rising tide lifts only the yachts; everyone else either sinks or must bail furiously just to stay afloat.
—James Leunk

We stink, but we just stink a little less than most of the rest of the world. Welcome to the Banana Republic of America, boys and girls.
—Devin Michaels, Chili

In spite of what Lovely Warren and Adam McFadden believe, there is no such thing as a free lunch. We need to enjoy the low gasoline prices and the lower energy costs while we can, because the sheiks are going to make their revenue goals. It’s merely a question of when.
—Jerry McCabe

With all the positive talk about jobs numbers, how many people have dropped out of the job market and stopped looking? How many people are underemployed and have been forced to take part-time or lower-wage jobs than their previous position? I know after I’ve been to the grocery store and measured out my 10-gallon-at-a-time gas, there isn’t much left. I don’t feel I have money to spend, or feel effects of a good economy, but I am grateful for my job.
—K. Youngs

One has to look behind these economic numbers. Adding 321,000 jobs to the economy is great, but how many of those are part-time jobs, or the less-than-30 hours Obama jobs? The unemployment rate of 5.8 percent must also be weighed against the labor force participation rate, which factors in all the workers who have given up looking for a job. If we didn’t have job-killing legislation like the Keystone XL Pipeline and the job-killing Affordable Care Act, then our economy would be a lot further ahead than it is now. What was Obama shoveling with those shovel-ready jobs?
—Clifford Jacobson M.D.

Millions of people not paid enough to support themselves on top of millions more unable to find work. That translates to a tragic economy. Add to that a failing education system for everyone and much worse for the poor. It adds up to a society that is going to viciously turn on the wealthy one of these days—with good reason. This is not the U.S.A. in which I grew up.
—Eve Elzenga, Eve Elzenga Design 

Employment/unemployment cannot be measured based on seasonality. Adding 321,000 is great, but we still have the 2.8 million long-term unemployed. That overshadows the best performance in 15 years.
—J.A. DePaolis, Penfield

Thank goodness for the contributions of the U.S.A. oil and gas industry for increasing our energy independence, lowering prices and creating jobs. Now if we could get the government to retract its new programs and regulations, we might even get back to a decent growth picture.
—Bob Worden, Penn Yan

It’s unfortunate because most only see this large number and think our economy is doing great. They do not see the underlying numbers and how they will affect our long-term economy and the middle class. It also does not show that a large number of these jobs are part-time or seasonal workers and that (many) permanent full-time jobs continue to go away forever. No wonder the Democratic Party is compensating for its blunders by pushing so hard for a 100 percent increase in the minimum wage.
—Barry Alt, A2Z Enhanced Digital Solutions

12/12/14 (c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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