Below are 10 key findings from the Q1 CNBC All-America Economic Survey, conducted from March 26-29 among 800 adults. The full poll can be found here. The margin of error on this poll is + 3.5%.
Key Summary Points from the Poll
- This marks the second CNBC track in a row with pre-recession type data. The last poll, conducted in December 2014, measured a significant jump in economic optimism across the polls fundamental tracking measures on economic attitudes overall, on wages, and on home values.
At 27%, the percentage of adults rating the economy excellent or good in the latest poll, is the highest it has been since before the recession. That represents a 10 percentage point increase over the past year and is up from 4% in the fourth quarter of 2008.
- The poll finds Americans slightly positive about the direction of the economy – In the latest poll 28% of Americans say the economy will get better over the next 12 months while 25% say it will get worse. This is the first net positive result on this question since June 2013.
- Housing data is stable compared to the December track but notably improved over the past two years. This month marks ONE year since the percentage of homeowners who felt their home value would decrease was in double-digits and three years since that attitude was held by 20% or more of homeowners.
- In general, Americans are slightly bullish about investing in stocks, 39% of Americans say it is a good time to invest while 34% say it is a bad time, including a majority of those currently invested in the stock market.
There has been a slight thaw in this measure since December, when the result was 41% Good – 30% Bad. But, this is the first time the poll has measured more Americans saying it is a “good” rather than a “bad” time to invest two tracks in a row.
- For most, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is not a factor in their decision to invest and, in fact, a record-high DJIA scares off as many investors as it brings in.
- There are four major issues that people say will be most important in the 2016 election – the economy and unemployment (23%), Healthcare (17%), Foreign Policy/world leadership/terrorism (16%), and Taxes/government spending (15%).
As has been true across polling since the great recession, the economy is the top election issue for Americans overall. But, with the trend toward more positive economic attitudes overall the percentage of Americans saying the economy is the most important issue (23%) is much lower today compared to the 40-50% range measured by other public polling in the last four national elections following the great recession.
- A majority of Americans (56%) are re-directing the money they are saving at the pump. In December, just 35% of respondents reported re-directing their gas money. On this multiple-answer question:
- 25% of Americans say they are pay down more debt, an increase from 12% in December 2014.
- 17% say they are spending more on other things, up from 8% in December 2014.
- 15% say they are putting their extra gas money into saving, matching the December 2014 result of 13%.
- 11% say they are driving more, similar to the 10% who said this in December 2014.
- Technology is playing a role in economic anxiety with 25% of Americans in households with less than $30K in income and 20% of adults with just a high school education saying they are concerned technology will replace their job in the near-term.
- Just 29% of Americans correctly answer the value of the dollar has increased compared to currencies of most other countries, 40% incorrectly say the value has decreased or stayed the same, and 31% say they don’t know enough to say either way. Notably, just 50% of “financial elites,” who have over $50,000 in the market and over $75,000 of total household income, give the right answer.
A stronger dollar does not make most consumers more likely to buy imports and, in fact, makes a larger share less likely and a vast majority of Americans say it doesn’t make any difference at all – this is true regardless of income or investment savvy.
By a slight margin, a strong dollar makes higher income earners more likely to consider traveling abroad but for the vast majority it is not a factor at all.
- One out of Five Americans reported watching “a lot” or “some” of the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament. The survey was conducted prior to the Final Four Championship games. The most attentive viewers are more likely to be older white men, have higher education levels, and are less likely to be Hispanic.
The 20% of Americans who report watching a lot or some of the Tournament say they would be less likely to watch the NCAA Tournament if players were paid by a 32 point margin (5% more likely – 37% less likely), with 57% saying paying NCAA players would make no difference in whether they watched.
Polling for CNBC is conducted by Republican pollster Public Opinion Strategies and Democratic pollster Hart Research Associates. This analysis is our own and does not necessarily reflect the views of CNBC or Hart Research Associates.