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Inflation souring American view on economy, poll says

Half now expect conditions to worsen

FILE – In this Dec. 10, 2020, file photo, a “Now Hiring” sign hangs on the front wall of a Harbor Freight Tools store in Manchester, N.H. When the U.S. government issues the September jobs report on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021, the spotlight will fall not only on how many people were hired last month. A second question will command attention, too: Are more people finally starting to look for work? (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)
FILE – In this Dec. 10, 2020, file photo, a “Now Hiring” sign hangs on the front wall of a Harbor Freight Tools store in Manchester, N.H. When the U.S. government issues the September jobs report on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021, the spotlight will fall not only on how many people were hired last month. A second question will command attention, too: Are more people finally starting to look for work? (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)
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SAN FRANCISCO — Americans’ opinions on the U.S. economy have soured noticeably in the past month, a new poll finds, with nearly half expecting economic conditions to worsen in the next year.

Just 35% of Americans now call the national economy good, while 65% call it poor, according to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. That’s a dip since September, when 45% of Americans called the economy good, and a return to about where views of the nation’s economy stood in January and February, when the pandemic was raging across the nation.

The deterioration in Americans’ economic sentiments comes as the cost of goods is rising nationwide, particularly gas prices, and bottlenecks in the global supply chain have made purchasing everything from furniture to automobiles more difficult. The Labor Department reported earlier this month that consumer prices in September rose 5.4% from a year earlier, the largest one-year increase since 2008.

Nadine Christian, 55, said she’s been concerned about the rising cost of living the past year.

“I grew up in the 1970s and I remember it was hard for my parents to make ends meet,” Christian said, referring to the last time the U.S. economy was severely impacted by high inflation. “It’s not quite as bad as it was back then but I feel like any day we could go off the rails.”

Roughly half of Americans — 47% — now say they expect the economy to get worse in the next year, compared with just 30% who think it will get better. In a poll conducted in February and March, the situation was reversed: 44% expected the economy to get better in the year ahead and just 32% said it would get worse.

Earlier this year, 70% of Democrats said they expected the economy to get better. Now, just 51% do. And the share of Republicans who think the economy will get even worse has grown to 74% from 59% earlier in the year.

Joseph Binkley, 34, from Indiana, said he’s worried about inflation but thinks the problems in the economy are temporary.

“I think it’s mostly a supply-demand issue, as the economy is improving,” he said.

The poll shows a majority of Americans are critical of Biden’s handling of the economy, with 58% saying they disapprove and 41% saying they approve.

Despite the deterioration in Americans’ economic outlooks, the poll found they remain relatively optimistic about their own financial situations. The poll found that 65% of Americans say their personal financial situation is good, a number that has remained about constant since before the pandemic began. Still, 24% say they think their personal finances will get worse in the next year, up from 13% earlier this year.