The public’s views of local job availability continue to improve. Currently, 50% of Americans say there are plenty of jobs available in their communities – the highest number saying that jobs are plentiful in Pew Research Center surveys dating to 2001.
Since June 2016, the share saying plenty of jobs are available has increased seven percentage points, from 43% to 50%, with virtually all of the change coming among Republicans. Yet in both parties, perceptions of the local job situation are much more positive today than they were three or four years ago.
However, the public’s brighter outlook on jobs has not been matched by comparable improvement in views of whether people’s incomes are keeping pace with the cost of living.
Currently, 49% saying their family’s income is falling behind the cost of living, while 40% feel they’re staying about even and just 9% feel like they’re getting ahead. These views are little changed over the past two years, though the share saying they are falling behind financially is lower today than in 2014 or early 2015.
The new national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted Oct. 25-30 among 1,504 adults, finds that views of the national economy continue to be much more positive than they were last December, after the presidential election. Currently, 41% rate economic conditions as excellent or good, while 59% say they are only fair or poor.
The share of Americans viewing current economic conditions as excellent or good is virtually unchanged since February (42%), but higher than last December (31%). Since December, positive views of economic conditions have surged among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (from 14% then to 57% today), while declining among Democrats and Democratic leaners (from 46% to 30%).
By contrast, economic optimism, which also rose in the months after the election, has subsided since then. Currently, 32% expect economic conditions to be better a year from now, 29% say conditions will be worse, with 37% saying conditions will about the same as today. In February, somewhat more (38%) thought the economy would improve, while 32% thought it would get worse and 28% said it would stay about the same.
For many, it’s too early to attribute the economy’s overall performance – good or bad – to Donald Trump’s economic policies. Less than a year into his administration, 49% say his policies have not had much of an effect on economic conditions; of those who do see an impact, more think his policies have made the economy better (29%) than worse (18%).
Partisans take starkly different views of Trump’s economic impact. Most Republicans (63%) say Trump’s policies have made the economy better. By contrast, 64% of Democrats say they haven’t had much effect.