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Commentary By Reade Ben

Economics Newsletter: Understanding Public Perception Amidst Economic Recovery

Economics Finance, Tax & Budget

The American economy is technically improving­, but Americans do not seem to think so.

The Wall Street Journal’s swing state poll revealed that nearly three quarters of respondents believed inflation had moved “in the wrong direction” over the course of the last year. While inflation has fallen since this time last year, it is still elevated compared to pre-pandemic levels.

As shown in the chart above, the difference between the country at large and the sum of its parts is interesting. The Wall Street Journal's Greg Ip suggests that economic pessimism might be a spillover effect from a broader national pessimism. Currently, 56% of Americans disprove of the current president. Nearly 70% of respondents to an August Wall Street Journal survey noted that the “country is headed in the wrong direction.” Increasing polarization is a major issue. Two global conflicts dominate headlines.

Americans probably understand inflation more than they are credited for. It is likely just difficult for many to affirm that a prevalent macroeconomic indicator is moving “in the right direction” when they feel the country at large is not.

Reade Ben is a policy analyst at the Manhattan Institute.

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