About two-thirds of Americans (68%) do not expect the economy to improve in the next year. Half (50%) expect economic conditions to be the same as now in a year’s time, and 18% expect conditions to be worse. Just three-in-ten (29%) expect U.S. economic conditions to be better a year from now. While the economy was thought to be in worse shape at times during late 2008 and early 2009, the public was far more optimistic about a turnaround at that time. Just 17% of Americans are satisfied with the way things are going in the country today, while 79% are dissatisfied. These figures are unchanged from July, before the debt-ceiling showdown and ensuing market fluctuations. Satisfaction is now at its lowest point since late 2008. As for their priorities, Americans are now evenly divided over whether the federal government should prioritize spending to help the economy recover or reducing the budget deficit: 47% say spending to help the economy should be the higher priority, while 46% say reducing the budget deficit. In June, 52% viewed reducing the deficit as the higher priority compared with 42% who prioritized spending to help the economy. In February, the public was, as it is now, more evenly divided. Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.