U.S. Economic Confidence Falls as Sequester Becomes Reality

U.S. Economic Confidence Falls as Sequester Becomes Reality

by Alyssa Brown

Prior to sequester, confidence held at the monthly five-year high

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Gallup's Economic Confidence Index fell to -22 last week from -13 the week prior, with most of the decline occurring after Congress and the president ultimately failed to avert the $85 billion in budget cuts mandated as part of the sequestration legislation. The weekly average of -22 is the lowest such average since the -22 reading for the week ending Dec. 30, amid the fiscal cliff debate.

Gallup Economic Confidence Index -- Weekly Averages Since January 2012

Americans' economic confidence declined sharply toward the end of last week after the budget sequestration went into effect. Gallup Daily tracking three-day rolling averages show that economic confidence fell to -27 at the end of last week -- the lowest three-day average since the end of December.

Gallup Economic Confidence Index, Three-Day Rolling Averages, Feb. 18-March 3, 2013

Although Americans' confidence in the economy fell last week, monthly U.S. Economic Confidence held steady at -13 in February, matching January and the five-year monthly high set in November 2012. Monthly economic confidence improved from September to November before declining to -17 in December. It rebounded to -13 in January and remained at this level in February.

Gallup Economic Confidence Index -- Monthly Averages, January 2008-March 2013

Bottom Line

While monthly economic confidence in February tied the five-year monthly high first reached in November and January, weekly averages showed a steep decline of nine percentage points last week. This confidence crash coincides with the battle in Washington over the budget sequestration and automatic spending cuts that went into effect March 1.

A majority of Americans, 56%, say the nation's economy will suffer this year if the federal budget sequestration goes into effect and 44% say sequestration will harm their own finances. This sentiment, combined with a sharp decline in Americans' economic confidence in the week ending March 3, suggests that Americans' monthly economic confidence may slip further in March.

But, Americans' confidence in the economy did rebound quickly after the fiscal cliff debate came to an end, so confidence may similarly bounce back if leaders in Washington reach a deal.

The U.S. stock market has not shown signs of decline as a result of the sequestration debate, but Americans' worries about the impact of $85 billion in automatic spending cuts could rattle an already delicate economy.

Gallup.com reports results from these indexes in daily, weekly, and monthly averages and in Gallup.com 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 the Gallup Daily tracking survey Feb. 1-28, 2013, with a random sample of 13,264 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling.

For monthly results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point.

For weekly results based on the total weekly sample of interviews conducted Feb. 25-March 3, 2013, with 3,572 national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points.

For daily results based on the total rolling three-day samples of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±3 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% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cellphones 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 www.gallup.com.

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