Why Are Americans Dissatisfied Despite a Strong Economy?
Even though inflation appears to have been tamed without triggering a recession, Americans report broad dissatisfaction with the country’s economic leadership. While there are multiple likely explanations for this, one important factor is the role of unfulfilled promises in a world of rising aspirations.
NEW HAVEN – “It’s the economy, stupid.” This famous slogan from Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign was once thought to capture the key issue on American voters’ minds in any election year. So, will that mantra be vindicated once again this year?
While it is premature to declare economic victory, inflation appears to have been tamed without triggering a recession, the labor market remains tight, and President Joe Biden’s policies have disproportionately benefited low-income Americans (though much more remains to be done). Yet in poll after poll, respondents express deep dissatisfaction with the country’s leadership.
The discontent is not just with Biden but extends to all “major economic leaders,” including US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, who was not even appointed by the current administration. It cannot be attributed to recent foreign-policy decisions in the Middle East, because the low approval figures predate the Hamas attack on October 7. Instead, there seems to be a sharp disconnect between the way economists view the state of the US economy and people’s perceptions of their own well-being.