Americans’ confidence in the economy has improved compared to July, but the public still evaluates the economy negatively, according to a new Gallup poll.
Gallup’s economic confidence index improved from -51 in July to -39 in August, returning to the levels seen in March in April.
The index measures Americans’ evaluations of current economic conditions and whether the economy is improving or worsening on a theoretical scale of +100 to -100.
Sixteen percent of U.S. adults rated current economic conditions as “excellent” or “good,” compared to 14 percent in July. Forty-seven percent of respondents described conditions as “poor,” a five-point drop from when 52 percent said so last month.
More Americans also believe the economy is getting better, according to the poll.
One-quarter of respondents indicated they believe the economy is getting better, up from 16 percent in July, while the proportion saying the economy is worsening dropped from 80 percent to 72 percent.
The increased confidence measure comes as gas prices continue to fall, clocking in at a national average of $3.84 per gallon as of Wednesday, according to AAA. Gas prices peaked at more than $5 per gallon in mid-June and had remained above $4 in July.
The drop in gas prices helped drive a recent decline in annual inflation, which dipped to 8.5 percent in July after hitting a 40-year high of 9.1 percent in June.
To curb price growth, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell last week said the central bank will continue leaning into interest rate increases, which make borrowing more expensive to cool demand.
The poll found a plurality of respondents named inflation as the top problem facing the country.
Eighteen percent of U.S. adults named it as the most important problem, which is on par with the survey’s results dating back to March and the highest level that Gallup has measured since the early 1980s.
The government has generally tied with inflation as the top overall problem since March, Gallup found.
An additional 14 percent of respondents named the economy more generally as the most important problem, and no other issue garnered more than 6 percent when Gallup asked the question.
The poll also found continued splits in economic confidence among partisan groups, although all groups had at least a somewhat negative view.
The economic confidence index score clocked in as -3 for Democrats, -43 for independents and -76 for Republicans. But all three groups’ confidence recovered in August, essentially moving back to levels seen in March and April.
The poll was conducted Aug. 1-23 with a random, weighted sample of 1,006 U.S. adults. The margin of error is 4 percentage points.