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keep the recovery going

Despite incomes increasing, Americans still believe the country is heading in the wrong direction

All the signs suggest the US economy is improving steadily. So why do the majority of Americans think the country is on the wrong track?

PRESIDENT OBAMA HAS received some good news in his final months in office – a glowing census report which shows positive economic results.

But not everyone in the United States of America believes that things are on the up.

The census showed that between 2014 and 2015:

  • Real household income increased 5.2%, bringing the median income up from $53,718 to $56,516. The median income in grew in all regions.
  • There are now 3.5 million fewer people living in poverty, the steepest decline since 1968.
  • Four million people gained health insurance, bringing the uninsured proportion of the population down to 9.1%.

Robert Greenstein, the President of the Centre on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, said it is “an excellent report. There’s no other way to put it.”

The US has also seen other economic indicators moving in the right direction.

Unemployment is at 4.9%, down from 10.2% at the height of the recession. Foreclosures on houses are also down 12.2% from last year.

But despite these improvements in the economy, it seems that only 27% believe that America is going in the right direction, while 66% believe the country is on the wrong track, according to a George Washington University Battleground survey.

Additionally, when asked what was the most important thing for the next president to focus on, the biggest issue among those surveyed was the economy, followed by dysfunction in government and jobs.

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Why is sentiment so off?

However, there may be a clue in the survey as to why attitudes don’t reflect the indicators. When asked if they were concerned about the US suffering another economic downturn, 73% said they were very worried or somewhat worried.

Speaking to the Washington Post, Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute said:

The larger economy may have improved, but people are worried about the rug being pulled out from under them.

“In past (business) cycles, people were more hopeful, expecting they would have to deal with fluctuations but that there would always be an upturn at the end.

This time, people are not ‘enjoying’ the recovery. Rather they are worried about an even worse downturn just around the corner because the American economy is not as resilient as it once was.

However, Tom Jenson from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling believes the problem is political.

Republicans pretty much universally say they think the country is on the wrong track because they don’t like the president and don’t want to give him any credit.

The Irish connection

Fine Gael also learned in the recent election that even though the economy may be improving objectively, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it translates to people’s personal experience.

The slogan ‘let’s keep the recovery going’ received a lot of criticism from commentators, other political parties and voters on the doors. This was in spite of the fact that Ireland was the fastest growing economy in Europe, that unemployment was down and consumer sentiment in Ireland, feelings about the economy and personal finances, was a net positive.

A Red C poll taken a couple of weeks before the election found that 56% of people had not felt any recovery in the economy.

At the Fine Gael think-in earlier this week, the slogan was named as one of the reasons that the party did so badly in the general election, which resulted in them losing 26 seats.

Read: These cheering fans queued for days to get their hands on the new iPhone 7

Read: Trump’s campaign says Obama WAS born in the US, even though Trump himself refuses to do so

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