President Donald Trump on Friday celebrated news that the economy had added 135,000 jobs in August in a tweet that also jabbed at the media for reporting on some worrying economic signs that have popped up in recent weeks.
It was an attempt by the President to tell the public that troubling economic news – the slowed pace of hiring, uncertainty surrounding US trade with China, the contracting American manufacturing sector – isn’t really happening. But polls are showing that the American public’s confidence in the economy is starting to weaken, which could affect one of Trump’s main arguments for reelection and may affect consumer spending, one of the main forces behind the country’s economic growth in the last quarter.
An August Quinnipiac poll showed that for the first time in Trump’s tenure, a plurality of voters said the economy is getting worse. Almost 4 in 10 said the economy is getting worse, 31% said it’s getting better and 30% said it’s staying the same. In a June Quinnipiac poll, only 23% said the economy was getting worse, a 14 percentage point change.
Democrats, independents, white college graduates and white women saw the biggest increases in people who said the economy is getting worse, moving either from better or those who thought it wouldn’t change much. The poll showed a more than 20 percentage point jump in the proportions of Democrats, white college graduates and white women who think the economy is getting worse, and a 19 percentage point jump in the proportion of independents who say it is getting worse.
No demographic group saw a rise in those who said the economy is getting better, but Republicans and voters under 35 were the least likely to have increases in people who said the economy is getting worse (up 1 and 5 percentage points, respectively).
The overall trend shows troubling news for Trump as well: The proportion of American voters who think the economy is getting better dropped 8 percentage points between June and August. In August 2018, 45% of Americans said the economy was getting better, 14 points higher than in August 2019, Quinnipiac showed.
Voters are also seeing Trump’s economic policies, such as his ongoing trade war with the Chinese, in a less favorable light. The August Quinnipiac poll showed 41% of Americans think Trump’s policies are hurting the nation’s economy. That’s up 4 percentage points from January 2019 and 11 percentage points from December 2018, according to Quinnipiac.
Other indicators of economic fears among Americans include a drop in the proportion of voters who said the economy was excellent or good – down to 61% in August from 70% in June.
Not only is the economy declining in the minds of American voters, but it’s also becoming a more prominent issue for them than it has been – 13% chose the economy as the most important problem facing the country, following immigration (18%) and health care (17%), according to a recent Ipsos/Reuters poll.
That’s up from earlier this summer. In July, only 8% said the economy was the most important issue facing the US today. The issues of the economy and unemployment or lack of jobs combined are on par with the other top two issues of immigration and health care. Just a week ago, the two combined were 12%, up significantly in the recent Ipsos/Reuters poll.