Poll: Economy Bouncing Back for About Half of Americans

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

Americans are about as likely to think the nation's economy is on the upswing as they are to think it is still not recovering.

In this week's national FOX News/Opinion Dynamics Poll, 47 percent say, from their family's perspective, it feels like the country's economy is bouncing back. On the other hand, 45 percent say it does not feel like the economy is recovering from the downturn.

Young people, higher income groups, and Republicans are among those most likely to feel like the economy is turning around in a positive direction.

Overall, fewer Americans rate the condition of the economy positively today than did in previous surveys this year. Currently, less than a quarter say the economy is in "excellent" (one percent) or "good" (23 percent) condition — an even lower rating than when the country was officially declared to be in a recession. Fully half of Americans (51 percent) say the economy is "only fair" and 24 percent currently rate it as "poor."

Even so, most respondents (65 percent) continue to be optimistic that the economy will be in better shape a year from now (17 percent "a lot better" and 48 percent "a little better"). This rating, too, is slightly less optimistic than in surveys earlier this year when 72 percent said the economy would improve.

"All in all, there is a discernable trend of uneasiness on the economy-as if Americans want to believe a turnaround is here but see the real world effects in their day-to-day lives. The optimism that does exist is probably tempered by the corporate business scandals raging in the daily headlines," commented Ernest Paicopolos, a principal of Opinion Dynamics.

Today, a slim majority says the U.S. is generally headed in the right direction (53 percent), down from 58 percent a couple months ago, while 26 percent say the country is "off on the wrong track." These numbers are back in line with sentiment seen prior to the September 11th terrorist attacks.

President George Bush's overall job rating has seen a gradual decline as the 9/11 rally attitude fades; however, he still receives a strong 70 percent of Americans approving of the job he's doing as president (19 percent disapprove). Twice as many Republicans as Democrats approve of the job the president is doing (94 percent of GOPers and 47 percent of Democrats approve). There is zero gender gap on the president's job performance, as both men and women rate him equally.

Americans Believe the Corporate World is Tainted

As the country continues to be inundated with stories about business scandals and corporate corruption, Americans believe many big businesses are involved in wrongdoing.

One in four Americans thinks many big businesses (more than 50 percent) are guilty of Enron-like misconduct. Additionally, 12 percent think more than three-quarters of businesses are on par with Enron and Worldcom. Seventeen percent think that a small number of businesses (less than 10 percent) are guilty of misconduct.

Polling was conducted by telephone July 9-10, 2002 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ± 3 percentage points.

1. Considering how things are today, would you say that the U.S. is generally headed in the right direction, or is it off on the wrong track?

2. Do you approve or disapprove of the job George W. Bush is doing as president?

3. On a scale of excellent, good, only fair and poor, how would you rate economic conditions today?

4. A year from now, do you think the economy will be better or worse?  Is that a lot (better/worse) or only a little (better/worse)?

5. For you and members of your family, does it feel like the country's economy is bouncing back or like the economy is not recovering?

6. What percentage of big businesses do you think are actually guilty of the kind of corporate misconduct seen in companies like Enron and Worldcom?