February 10, 2015

Views of Job News Turn Much More Positive Over Past Year

News About Gas Prices Continues to be Viewed as ‘Mostly Good’

Survey Report

Positive Views of Job News Rise, But More Still Hear a Mix of Good and BadFor the first time since the end of the recession in 2009, a greater share of the public is hearing mostly good news (28%) than bad news (22%) about the job situation. Nearly half (47%) say they are hearing a mix of good and bad news.

This marks a stark change from a year ago, when just 12% said they were hearing mostly good news about jobs, while more than three times as many (42%) had negative perceptions; 44% described the news as mixed.

Positive impressions about job news continue to tick up as the Labor Department reported the greatest three-month increase in new jobs since 1997. However, January’s unemployment rate of 5.7% sits at the same point as in October.

A new survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted Feb. 5-8 among 1,003 adults, shows that views of news about the overall economy also have become more positive, although a majority (62%) continues to describe the news as mixed. For the first time since the Pew Research Center began tracking this question in December 2008, about as many are hearing mostly good news (18%) as bad news (17%) about the economy. In previous surveys, negative views had consistently surpassed positive impressions.

As Many Hearing Good News as Bad About Economy, But Most Say It Is MixedPerceptions about gas prices continue to be very positive: 62% are hearing mostly good news, 10% are hearing mostly bad news, and 27% are hearing a mix. The percentage hearing mostly good news about gas prices has fallen slightly from 70% in December.

The average price of regular gas has risen about 15 cents in the last two weeks to $2.19 a gallon, though it is still more than $1 a gallon cheaper than it was a year ago, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

On other measures of economic news, perceptions continue to be mixed, on balance. Half (50%) say news about the stock market is mixed (22% mostly good, 8% mostly bad). Nearly half (45%) are hearing mixed news about real estate values (25% mostly good, 15% mostly bad). And more say news about prices for food and consumer goods is mostly bad (36%) than mostly good (14%), with 44% hearing a mix.

Partisan Views of Economic News

Republicans' Perceptions of Economic News Becoming Much Less NegativeViews about economic news – like news about the job situation – have improved dramatically in the last 12 months. In February 2014, one-third (33%) were hearing mostly bad news and just 5% were hearing mostly good economic news. Today, the share hearing bad news has dropped 16 points and good news has risen 13 points. About six-in-ten today (62%) are still hearing mixed news.

About three-in-ten Democrats (29%) are hearing mostly good news, up 21 points from a year ago. Just 9% of Democrats are hearing mostly bad news, while 60% say economic news is a mix of good and bad.

Among Republicans, more are hearing bad news (23%) than good news (12%), but the share with negative perceptions has dropped by half over the past year (from 47% in February 2014). A 63% majority of Republicans are hearing mixed news. About as many independents are hearing good news (15%) as bad news (19%), whereas far more were hearing bad news than good news a year ago (36% vs. 4%).

Young Adults, Democrats Hearing Better News About Job SituationMost demographic groups also have more positive perceptions about the job situation compared with last February.

The share hearing good news about jobs has roughly doubled among both men (32% vs. 14%) and women (24% vs. 10%).

All age groups, especially young adults, register more positive perceptions about jobs. Among those younger than 30, 38% are hearing mostly good news and 21% mostly bad news. A year ago, four times as many young adults were hearing bad news than good news (44% vs. 11%).

More than twice as many Democrats are hearing good news than bad news on jobs (42% vs. 16%), a major improvement from last year (16% good, 29% bad).

While few Republicans are positive about job perceptions (15% vs. 10% in February 2014), fewer say the news about the job situation is mostly bad (33%, down from 48%). Today, 50% of Republicans call jobs news a mix of both good and bad, up from 37%.

Public’s Views of News About Food Prices, Gas Prices, Real Estate Values

Public's Views of News About Food Prices, Gas Prices, Real Estate Values

While positive perceptions of news about gas prices have more than quadrupled  in the past year (from 14% to 62%), views of news about other sectors – food  and consumer prices, real estate values and the stock market – have shown less change.

Notably, perceptions of news about food and consumer prices remain far more negative (36%) than positive (14%), with 44% describing it as mixed. A year ago, 43% said news about food and consumer prices was mostly bad, 9% said it was mostly good and 41% called it mixed.

On balance, more are hearing mostly good news (22%) than bad news (8%) about the stock market (50% mixed). Perceptions of stock market news have tipped more positive; a year ago, 13% viewed it mostly positively, 21% mostly negatively (49% mixed). More also are hearing mostly good news (25%) than bad news (15%) about real estate values (45% mixed), which is little changed from February 2014.

Higher-Income Adults Hearing Better News Across Most Economic SectorsPerceptions of economic sectors continue to vary widely by family income. Regarding the stock market, those with annual incomes of at least $75,000 are hearing more good than bad news: 35% have positive perceptions, 8% negative and 53% mixed.

Among adults with less than $30,000 of annual family income, 11% are hearing positive news about the stock market, 9% negative and 53% mixed; a relatively large share of those with low family incomes (27%) express no opinion.

By contrast, there are smaller differences by family income in views of news about the overall economy. About one-in-five (22%) of those with family incomes of $75,000 or more say news about the economy has been mostly good; only somewhat fewer (14%) of those with incomes of $30,000 or less say the same.

Majorities across income categories – and among partisan groups – view news about gas prices as mostly good, although those with higher incomes (69% among $75,000 or more) are more likely to say this than those with lower incomes (58% of $30,000 or less). While two-thirds of Democrats (66%) view news about gas prices positively, so too do 57% of Republicans.