Sir Issac Newton didn’t necessarily say that an economy in downward motion stays in downward motion, but that won’t stop Americans from believing it.
After a tumultuous last few years mentally, sociopolitically, and economically, it would be tough to blame people for not feeling too optimistic entering the new year, which is traditionally a time for hope and a fresh start. But a new poll from Gallup, which surveyed more than 1,800 American adults, found that eight out of 10 respondents expect 2023 to be another year of economic difficulty, with higher taxes and an increased budget deficit.
“Americans are greeting 2023 with great skepticism and little expectation that the economic struggles that closed out 2022 will abate,” Gallup research consultant Megan Brenan wrote. “Few U.S. adults also predict the partisan politics that plague the nation will improve, not an unreasonable expectation given that there will be divided government in 2023 after Republicans won control of the U.S. House of Representatives.”
Concerns around record-high levels of inflation and continued talk of a looming recession dominated much of the economic discourse last year. Such money woes are only adding to Americans’ ongoing anxiety over COVID, heightened racism and bigotry, and mental health and isolationism.
The Federal Reserve scrambled in 2022 to raise interest rates in an attempt to tamp down inflation as Americans shelled out more money to buy homes, fill gas tanks, run to the grocery store, or splurge on other everyday items.
But that’s partly what’s sparking recession fears. And many Americans don’t seem to think the Fed’s strategy will be effective. According to Gallup, more than six in 10 adult Americans think prices will still rise at a high rate and that the stock market will continue to fall in 2023 (although inflation has been slowly ebbing). And just over half of Americans expect unemployment to increase in 2023, which hasn’t yet been a concern as workers continue to quit jobs in droves despite layoffs, particularly in tech, rattling the workforce.
Americans aren’t just grim about their bank accounts and the workforce. Ninety percent of respondents surveyed said they expect 2023 to be a year of more political conflict in the U.S.; if the unprecedented mess unfolding in the U.S. House of Representatives with would-be Speaker Kevin McCarthy is any indication a week into the year, their prediction holds water.
In addition to that, more than 70% think the crime rate will rise, and 56% predict there will be “many” labor strikes by unions.
If you’re not yet sufficiently bummed out, predictions internationally are similarly pessimistic. Eighty-five percent of U.S. adults are forecasting a 2023 fraught with international discord rather than peace. A bright spot, however, are the 64% of Americans who expect Russia’s power to decrease, which Gallup points to a likely reflection of the country’s recent setbacks in its war against Ukraine.
Whatever 2023 actually holds, the continual setbacks and shell shocks since the onset of the pandemic in 2020 sure have significantly impacted the roaring 2020s Americans by and large were once hopeful for.
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