Americans Start New Year Less Optimistic About Economy

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Heading into 2016, Americans were less than thrilled about the shape of the economy, according to a Gallup poll released Tuesday.

The survey shows that the overall outlook dipped in December from earlier in the year, but not to the same dismal low as the start of the recession.

To determine their score, pollsters took an average of responses on two items: How Americans rate current economic conditions and whether they believe the economy is improving. Then a numerical score is assigned based on the average. If all Americans rated the economy positively, the score would be +100. (As you probably guessed, we didn’t employ such complex methodology to our tongue-in-cheek Score issue ranking Richmond's zeitgeist in 2015.)

In December, 25 percent of Americans rated current economic conditions as “excellent” or “good,” while 29 percent rated them as poor. This yielded a score of -11. In 2008, economic confidence scored a dismal -32.

Gallup’s index rose sharply in late 2014 and early 2015, as gas prices dipped to record lows. For the first time since the recession, the score was at a +3. But the outlook trended down a few points every month throughout the year and remained below a -10, after dipping to the year’s low of -14 in September.

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