U.S. Economic Confidence Wobbly as Sequester Approaches

by Alyssa Brown

Economic confidence worsened at the end of the week ending Feb. 24

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Gallup's Economic Confidence Index was -13 in the week ending Feb. 24. That compares with the previous week's -11 and reflects a decline in Americans' confidence from the five-year weekly high of -8 during the week ending Feb. 3.

Gallup Economic Confidence Index -- Weekly Averages, January 2011

Although the weekly average showed little change, confidence declined in the latter part of the week. Gallup Daily tracking three-day rolling averages showed economic confidence falling to -17 at the end of last week -- one of the lowest such averages since early January. This decline may reflect Americans' concerns about the budget sequestration or rising gas prices.

Gallup Economic Confidence Index, Feb. 18-24, 2013

Gallup's Economic Confidence Index is based on Americans' ratings of current U.S. economic conditions and their assessments of whether the economy is getting better or worse.

Americans' outlook for the nation's economy showed signs of slipping last week, falling to -10 from -7 the prior week. The latest reading reflects a majority of Americans -- 53% -- saying the economy is getting worse, and 43% saying the economy is getting better.

At the same time, Americans' confidence in current economic conditions held steady. Gallup Daily tracking finds 20% of Americans rating current U.S. economic conditions as excellent or good, while 36% say they are poor. The net current conditions score of -16 is on par with -15 from the prior week.

Gallup Economic Confidence Sub-Indexes -- Weekly Averages, Since January 2011

At the tail end of last week, Americans' economic outlook score declined to -16, with 40% saying the economy is getting better and 56% worse in Feb. 22-24 tracking. Evaluations of current conditions were more stable, with a -17 index score based on 20% rating conditions as excellent or good and 37% saying they were poor.

Bottom Line

As federal lawmakers debate how to handle the automatic spending cuts scheduled to go into effect March 1, Americans' confidence in the economy is showing some signs that the uncertainty may be taking a toll. The decline in the three-day rolling average at the end of last week suggests that the budget sequestration battle may negatively affect Americans' economic confidence in the week ahead. Still, it is possible that Americans' economic confidence will bounce back quickly as it did after the fiscal cliff debate concluded. reports results from these indexes in daily, weekly, and monthly averages and in stories. Complete trend data are always available to view and export in the following charts:

Daily: Employment, Economic Confidence, Job Creation, Consumer Spending
Weekly: Employment, Economic Confidence, Job Creation, Consumer Spending

Read more about Gallup's economic measures.

View our economic release schedule.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking Feb. 18-24, 2013, with a random sample of 3,067 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cell phone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phones numbers are selected using random digit dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, cellphone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2012 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the July-December 2011 National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the 2010 census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit

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