Economy Numbers Up, Satisfaction Down
The NYT notes that the public simultaneously has high confidence in the economy and is dissatisfied with the general direction of the country.
A well-known index of consumer confidence has risen to its highest level in four years, according to the Conference Board, a research company in New York. In the most recent CBS News poll, conducted last month, 55 percent of respondents rated the economy as good, even though 66 percent of Americans said the country was on the wrong track.
Kevin Drum points to this nugget:
Spending by upper-income families appears to be driving much of the economy’s growth. The average hourly wage for rank-and-file workers — who make up roughly 80 percent of the work force — has fallen by 5 cents in the last four years, to $16.49, after inflation is taken into account.
Aha! “Yep, that might account for it. For most of us, trickle-down economics is more like Republican water torture.”
Of course, the polls show that the public thinks the economy is fine, so that’s probably not it. [To clarify: The lack of income growth for wage workers presumably helps explain the 45% who don’t rate the economy “good.” It does not, however, seem to shed much light on why 11% of those who rate the economy “good” nonetheless say “the country is going in the wrong direction.”] Indeed, a $2 a week real difference in purchasing power (5 cents x 40 hours) would hardly be noticable.
My guess is that other issues (the war in Iraq, immigration, various political scandals, etc.) are the reason that the “wrong direction” results are so strong.