There are signs that the worst of the turmoil was starting to ease at the end of last year. The number of job vacancies posted by employers fell in November, the Labor Department said on Tuesday, although it remained high by historical standards. Hiring has also resumed. Earlier data showed more people returned to the workforce in November and various measures of supply chain pressures began to ease.
But that was before the explosion of coronavirus cases linked to the Omicron variant, which forced airlines to cancel flights, companies to delay plans to return to the office, and school districts to temporarily return to learning. from a distance. Forecasters say the latest wave of Covid-19 is almost certain to prolong economic uncertainty, although it is too early to say how it will affect inflation, spending or the job market.
Despite the demand for labor and the wage increases won by some, Americans are pessimistic about the economy. According to a poll released Tuesday, only 21% of adults said their finances were better than a year ago, compared to 26% when the question was asked a year earlier, although by most metrics l The economy has improved considerably during this period. period. The survey of 5,365 adults was conducted last month for The New York Times by Momentive, the online research company formerly known as SurveyMonkey.
Overall consumer confidence is at its lowest in nearly five years since Momentive conducted its survey. Republicans have been particularly pessimistic about the economy since President Biden took office a year ago, but in recent months Democrats have also become more austere. Other surveys have found similar results.
Inflation seems to be one of the main reasons for people’s gloomy outlook. Most of those polled in the Momentive survey said inflation had not yet had a major effect on their finances. But nearly nine in ten people said they were at least “somewhat concerned” about inflation, and six in 10 said they were “very concerned.” Concerns about inflation cross generational, racial and even partisan lines: 95% of Republicans, 88% of Independents and 82% of Democrats say they are worried.
“Almost the only group of people who say they are better now than they were a year ago are people who got a raise that meets or exceeds inflation,” said Laura Wronski , researcher at Momentive.