Economy

Restaurants Again Voted Most Popular U.S. Industry

Restaurants Again Voted Most Popular U.S. Industry
by Lydia Saad

Story Highlights

  • Restaurants lead industries with 66% positive, 7% negative ratings
  • Computer industry a close second at 66% positive, 13% negative
  • Federal government again ranked last

PRINCETON, N.J. -- The restaurant and computer industries, long among the best-rated U.S. industries in Gallup's annual measure of U.S. business sectors, again lead the poll, with 66% of Americans rating each positively. However, with only 7% of Americans viewing the restaurant industry negatively vs. 13% for the computer industry, the restaurant industry enjoys the more positive overall image this year.

Top-Rated U.S. Business Sectors -- Better Than 2-to-1 Positive
For each of the following business sectors in the United States, please say whether your overall view of it is very positive, somewhat positive, neutral, somewhat negative or very negative.
Total positive Neutral Total negative Net positive
% % % pct. pts.
Restaurant industry 66 27 7 +59
Computer industry 66 19 13 +53
Grocery industry 54 28 18 +36
Farming and agriculture 55 23 20 +35
Accounting 45 40 12 +33
Travel industry 48 33 16 +32
Internet industry 53 21 24 +29
Automobile industry 50 26 23 +27
Retail industry 49 26 23 +26
Real estate industry 44 31 21 +23
Gallup, Aug. 3-7, 2016

The restaurant and computer sectors have vied for the most well-reviewed U.S. industry in each of Gallup's annual measures of this question since 2001. This year's +59 net-positive score for the restaurant industry is well above its average +51 since 2001, whereas the computer industry's +53 net-positive score is about average for that industry.

Two other industries connected with food -- grocery and farming/agriculture -- rank near the top in the Aug. 3-7 poll. The remaining six industries in the top 10 represent a hodgepodge of sectors including the accounting, travel, internet, automobile, retail and real estate industries. All of these enjoy better than 2-to-1 positive over negative ratings.

Americans view another 10 industries no worse than neutrally, but in most cases net-positively. The telephone and airline industries lead this group, and it includes several entertainment and communication-related arenas: sports, movies, television and radio, publishing and advertising. Electric and gas utilities, education and banking also make this list.

Second-Tier U.S. Business Sectors -- Neutral to Somewhat Net-Positive Ratings
For each of the following business sectors in the United States, please say whether your overall view of it is very positive, somewhat positive, neutral, somewhat negative or very negative.
Total positive Neutral Total negative Net positive
% % % pct. pts.
Telephone industry 42 31 27 +15
Airline industry 41 30 26 +15
Sports industry 41 31 27 +14
Publishing industry 39 32 27 +12
Movie industry 42 24 32 +10
Electric and gas utilities 42 23 33 +9
Education 44 17 38 +6
Television and radio 40 23 38 +2
Banking 38 23 36 +2
Advertising and public relations 35 27 35 0
Gallup, Aug. 3-7, 2016

Federal Government Edges Out Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare at Bottom

The bottom five industries are all reviewed more negatively than positively, with three -- the federal government, pharmaceuticals and healthcare -- receiving negative ratings from more than half of the public. The legal field plus oil and gas have just slightly higher negative than positive ratings. While fairly typical for the legal field, this represents a significantly improved positioning for the oil and gas industry, which had skewed strongly negative from 2004 through 2014.

Worst-Rated U.S. Business Sectors -- Net-Negative Ratings
For each of the following business sectors in the United States, please say whether your overall view of it is very positive, somewhat positive, neutral, somewhat negative or very negative.
Total positive Neutral Total negative Net positive
% % % pct. pts.
Oil and gas industry 37 17 44 -7
The legal field 31 28 39 -8
Healthcare industry 34 12 54 -20
Pharmaceutical industry 28 19 51 -23
The federal government 28 16 55 -27
Gallup, Aug. 3-7, 2016

Airline Industry Improves; Healthcare and Pharma Sink

The biggest improvement in industry ratings this year is for the airline industry, with its +15 net-positive rating up from +3 in 2015, and by far its best rating in more than a decade.

Airline Industry -- Net Positive Ratings, 2001-2016

Two other industries -- healthcare and pharmaceuticals -- have gone down in public esteem. Although Democrats continue to be more positive than Republicans about the healthcare industry, as they have since 2013 when major components of the Affordable Care Act began to take effect, the healthcare industry is now at a five-year low. Its -20 net-positive score is down from -6 in 2015 and the lowest since 2011 because of declines in the past year among all party groups.

Relatedly, the pharmaceutical industry's -23 net-positive score is the worst in Gallup's 16-year trend, down from -8 in 2015.

Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Industries -- Net Positive Ratings, 2001-2016

Positive ratings of the internet industry are also down sharply compared with 2015 but are similar to 2014. More generally, its ratings have tended to bounce around in recent years.

Internet Industry -- Net Positive Ratings, 2001-2016

Bottom Line

At a time of persistently low public trust in the federal government, and with many more Americans rating the federal government negatively than positively, it is reassuring that Americans tend to view the bulk of 25 major U.S. business and industry sectors positively. Further, 10 of these -- ranging from some of the nation's oldest to some of its newest industries -- enjoy solidly positive ratings.

The top-scoring industries over the past 16 years -- restaurants and computers -- are both competitive ones that offer Americans enjoyment and efficiency while not stirring up major political controversies. The internet can also be a time saver in people's lives, but is known for significant privacy, security and crime risks that may keep it somewhat below computers in the overall ranking.

Historical data are available in Gallup Analytics.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Aug. 3-7, 2016, with a random sample of 1,032 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Each industry was rated by a randomly chosen half sample of respondents. Results for each industry have a margin of sampling error of ±6 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 60% cellphone respondents and 40% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

View survey methodology, complete question responses and trends.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.


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