Holiday shopping is over and the New Year’s Eve plans are made. It’s also the time of year when people look back and look forward and, this year many are probably thinking more of the economic year that was and the one that will be. President Obama is also probably thinking ahead to the economic future and his handling of the economy. At the end of his second year in office, just three in ten Americans (30%) give him positive ratings on the job he is doing on the economy while seven in ten (70%) give him negative ratings.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,331 adults surveyed online between December 6 and 13, 2010 by Harris Interactive.

When asked to compare their financial situation to last year, two in five Americans (42%) feel less secure now while one-third (36%) feel just as secure and one in five (19%) say they now feel more secure. While this reflects the end of a troubling financial year, it also shows an improvement from what people felt last year at this time. One year ago, over half of Americans (56%) said they felt less secure about their financial situation when compared to the previous year.

Looking ahead, one-quarter of Americans (26%) say they expect the economy to get worse in the coming year while three in ten (29%) expect it to get better and 45% say it will stay the same. Last month, over one-third (34%) said they thought the economy would be getting better, 41% said it would stay the same and 25% believed it would get worse.

The job market

In looking at the job market, just over one in three Americans (13%) rate the job market in their region of the country as good while three in five (63%) rate it as bad and one-quarter (24%) say it is neither good nor bad. Looking ahead, one-quarter of U.S. adults (25%) say they expect the job market to be better over the next six months, one in five (22%) say it will be worse and over half (54%) believe it will remain the same.

2011 Financial Expectations

Looking to what people may be doing with regard to their finances in the coming year, half of Americans (49%) say they will cut back on their household spending. Two in five say they will pay down their level of debt (41%) and save more in the year ahead (40%).  One in five U.S. adults say they will get rid of one or more credit cards (22%) and save more for retirement (22%) while 13% say they will undertake home improvements that increase the value of their home. Less than one in ten will invest in less risky investments (8%), refinance their mortgage (6%) or take out a home equity line of credit (2%). And, one in five Americans (18%) say they do not expect to do anything differently financially in 2011.

So What?

At the beginning of the year everyone always has the best intentions. Resolutions are made typically about health, diet and/or finances. But, as everyone knows, resolutions are also broken and if they last until the end of January, that’s a great thing. As the year goes on, it will be interesting to see if people are saving more, paying down their debt or cutting back on household spending.

TABLE 1

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S JOB RATING ON THE ECONOMY – TREND

“Now, turning to something different, how would you rate the overall job that President Barack Obama is doing on the economy?”

Base: All adults

2009
March April May June Aug Sept Nov Dec
% % % % % % % %
POSITIVE (NET) 47 49 46 43 39 40 34 36
Excellent 13 13 10 3 9 7 6 6
Pretty good 34 36 36 34 31 33 27 30
NEGATIVE (NET) 53 51 54 57 61 60 66 64
Only fair 30 27 30 27 25 27 30 30
Poor 23 24 24 30 36 33 37 34
2010
Jan March April May June Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
% % % % % % % % % %
POSITIVE (NET) 31 32 33 36 32 32 29 27 31 30
Excellent 5 5 6 6 5 6 5 5 5 5
Pretty good 25 27 27 30 27 26 24 22 26 25
NEGATIVE (NET) 69 68 67 64 68 68 71 73 69 70
Only fair 31 30 31 29 32 29 31 33 30 34
Poor 39 37 36 34 37 39 40 39 39 36
Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.
TABLE 2A

FINANCIAL SECURITY

“Compared to last year, how secure do you feel about your financial situation?”

Base: All adults

Total Political Affiliation Generation
Rep. Dem. Ind. Echo

Boomers

(18-33)

Gen. X

(34-45)

Baby

Boomers

(46-64)

Matures

(65+)

% % % % % % % %
MORE SECURE (NET) 19 11 27 21 26 19 17 13
Much more secure 5 2 8 5 5 5 5 3
Somewhat more secure 14 10 19 16 21 14 11 10
Same as last year 36 35 39 34 36 36 38 32
LESS SECURE (NET) 42 52 31 45 33 42 44 55
Somewhat less secure 23 26 18 24 19 20 22 31
Much less secure 20 26 13 21 13 22 22 24
Not sure 2 2 2 1 6 2 1 *
Note: Pe rcentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding

Note: * indicates less than 0.5%

TABLE 2B

FINANCIAL SECURITY – TREND

“Compared to last year, how secure do you feel about your financial situation?”

Base: All adults

2008 2009 2010
% % %
MORE SECURE (NET) 21 12 19
Much more secure 4 3 5
Somewhat more secure 17 9 14
Same as last year 34 30 36
LESS SECURE (NET) 38 56 42
Somewhat less secure 24 33 23
Much less secure 14 23 20
Not sure 7 3 2
Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding
TABLE 3

2011 FINANCIAL EXPECTATIONS

“Which of the following do you expect to do in 2011* in regards to your finances?”

Base: All adults

2009 2010 Generation
Echo

Boomers

(18-33)

Gen. X

(34-45)

Baby

Boomers

(46-64)

Matures

(65+)

% % % % % %
Cut back on my household spending 55 49 41 49 56 47
Pay down my level of debt 45 41 32 50 48 31
Save more in the year ahead 42 40 51 42 35 31
Get rid of one or more credit cards 24 22 13 23 29 24
Save more for retirement 21 22 18 26 29 10
Undertake home improvements that increase the
value of my home
14 13 12 11 12 17
Invest in less risky investments 9 8 5 6 9 12
Refinance my mortgage 5 6 4 8 9 4
Take out a home equity line of credit 2 2 3 2 1 1
Other 6 6 9 6 4 4
I don’t expect to do anything different financially in 2011* 16 18 23 16 14 21
Note: Multiple response question; In 2009 this question asked about financial activity for 2010
TABLE 4

EXPECTATIONS FOR THE ECONOMY IN THE COMING YEAR – TREND

“In the coming year, do you expect the economy to…?”

Base: All adults

2009 2010
April May Aug Sept Oct May June Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
% % % % % % % % % % % %
Improve 39 38 46 40 34 38 30 29 28 30 34 29
Stay the same 35 35 32 36 37 34 42 39 40 40 41 45
Get worse 26 27 22 24 29 28 28 32 32 30 25 26
Note: Percentages may not add up ex actly to 100% due to rounding
TABLE 5A

RATING OF CURRENT JOB MARKET – TREND

“How would you rate the current job market of your region of the nation ?”

Base:  All adults

2008 2009
June July Jan April June Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
% % % % % % % % % %
GOOD (NET) 28 30 6 12 9 8 10 10 8 9
Neither good nor bad 18 19 18 20 19 21 22 20 18 19
BAD (NET) 53 51 76 68 72 71 68 70 73 72
2010
Jan Mar. April May June Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
% % % % % % % % % %
GOOD (NET) 10 8 10 12 10 12 10 13 11 13
Neither good nor bad 20 18 21 20 25 22 21 21 23 24
BAD (NET) 70 73 70 68 66 66 69 66 66 63
Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding
TABLE 5B

RATING OF CURRENT JOB MARKET IN YOUR REGION – BY REGION

“How would you rate the current job market of your region of the nation?”

Base:  All adults

Total Region
East Midwest South West
% % % % %
GOOD (NET) 13 14 9 16 10
Very good 2 4 * 2 2
Somewhat good 11 10 9 14 8
Neither good nor bad 24 32 21 22 22
BAD (NET) 63 54 70 62 68
Somewhat bad 38 31 45 38 39
Very bad 25 23 25 24 29
Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding; * in dicates less than 0.5%
TABLE 6

EXPECTATIONS FOR JOB MARKET IN SIX MONTHS – TREND

“How do you think that the job market in your region of the nation will change over the next 6 months?”

Base:  All adults

Jan.

2009

April

2009

June

2009

August

2009

June

2010

Aug

2010

Sept

2010

Oct

2010

Nov

2010

Dec

2010

% % % % % % % % % %
BETTER (NET) 15 23 21 28 26 23 21 23 30 25
Will be much better 1 3 2 2 1 2 2 3 2 2
Will be somewhat better 14 20 19 26 25 21 19 20 28 23
Will remain the same 36 42 47 47 53 49 53 53 50 54
WORSE (NET) 49 36 32 25 21 27 26 24 21 22
Will be somewhat worse 36 29 24 19 15 22 20 18 15 16
Will be much worse 14 7 8 6 6 5 6 6 6 6
Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between December 6 to 13, 2010 among 2,331 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

J39118

Q705, 710, 715, 720, 725, 730

The Harris Poll ® #156, December 27, 2010

By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll, Public Relations and Youth Research, Harris Interactive

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

Press Contact:
Corporate Communications
Harris Interactive
212-539-9600
press@harrisinteractive.net

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