October 10, 2012

Public Less Negative About Economic News

Views of Job News Improve Across Partisan Lines


Americans are hearing less negative news about the nation’s economy than they were just a month ago, and perceptions of news about other economic sectors – notably, the job situation – have improved as well.

Most Americans continue to hear a mix of good and bad news about the economy (62%), but the share hearing mostly bad news has dipped from 35% in September to 28% this month. The percentage hearing mostly good news is essentially unchanged (8%).

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Oct. 4-7, 2012, among 1,006 adults, finds that the percentage hearing mostly bad news about the job situation has declined 10 points since September – from 52% to 42% – and 13 points since August. Most of the interviewing was conducted after the jobs report on Oct. 5, which showed that unemployment had fallen below 8% for the first time since early 2009.

The survey also finds fewer Americans are hearing mostly bad news about financial markets, real estate values and food and consumer prices. Last month, far more Americans said news about financial markets was mostly bad than mostly good (37% vs. 14%); 41% said the news about financial markets was mixed.

Currently, 26% say news about financial markets is mostly bad while 16% say it is mostly good. The percentage saying the news is a mix of good and bad has increased to 50%.

Similarly, the balance of opinion about real estate news has improved substantially since September. Currently 32% say news about real estate values is mostly bad, 23% say it is mostly good and 38% say it is mixed. Last month, negative perceptions of news about real estate values surpassed positive perceptions by about two-to-one (43% to 20%).

However, perceptions of news about gas prices remain overwhelmingly negative and are virtually unchanged since September. In the new survey, 72% say they are hearing mostly bad news about gas prices.

And while views of news about food and consumer prices have improved since September, 51% say the news about this sector is mostly bad.

Views of Job News: 2009-2012

Views of news about the job situation now approach their most positive levels in more than three years of Pew Research Center surveys. Currently, 17% say news about the job situation is mostly good, 42% say it mostly bad, while 40% see the news as mixed. In March of this year, there were similar perceptions of jobs news (17% mostly good, 38% mostly bad, 42% mixed).

Views of news about the job situation are markedly better today than at comparable points in past years since 2009. In November 2009, 68% said news about jobs was mostly bad; views were about as negative in September 2010 (65%) and November 2011 (64%).

Republicans Less Negative

A month ago, partisan differences in views of economic news reached record levels. Those differences, while still substantial, have narrowed since September as Republican views of economic news have improved both generally, and across most specific sectors.

Currently, about half (49%) of Republicans say economic news is mostly bad, down from 60% a month ago. Just 13% of Democrats say economic news is mostly bad, which is virtually unchanged since September. Independents’ views also are little changed (36% mostly bad in September, 29% currently).

Perceptions of job news have become less negative across partisan lines since last month. Nonetheless, far more Republicans (64%) than independents (43%) and Democrats (26%) say news about the job situation is mostly bad.

Notably, as many Democrats now say news about the job situation is mostly good (26%) as mostly bad (26%); 47% say it is a mix of good and bad. A month ago, 34% said job news was mostly bad, 18% said it was mostly good and 45% said it was mixed.

Cite this publication: “Public Less Negative About Economic News.” Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C. (October 10, 2012) http://www.people-press.org/2012/10/10/public-less-negative-about-economic-news/, accessed on July 22, 2014.