President Barack Obama’s job approval climbed to its highest level since June following a series of reports showing that the economy is strengthening and employment prospects for Americans are improving.
Gallup Inc.’s daily tracking poll results released today show Obama’s job approval at 49 percent in polling conducted from Feb. 6-8. The daily tracking poll averages results over three days.
Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of the Gallup Poll in Princeton, New Jersey, said a Labor Department report issued Feb. 3 showing the unemployment rate dropped to 8.3 percent in January, the lowest level in almost three years, “appears to be the proximate cause” for the boost in Obama’s popularity.
Newport said Obama’s job approval has been rising in recent weeks “in concert” with improvements in measures of public confidence in the economy.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose last week to a one-year high, spurred by improving perceptions of employment opportunities and a rally in the stock market. Confidence among political independents, considered a key group in presidential elections, increased to a four-year high.
Fewer Americans than forecast filed claims for unemployment insurance payments last week, indicating the labor market recovery is gaining traction, figures from the Labor Department showed today. Applications for jobless benefits decreased by 15,000 in the week ended Feb. 4 to 358,000. The median forecast of 48 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News projected 370,000.
Disapproval for Congress
The improving economic picture isn’t translating into greater popularity for Congress.
Gallup’s latest gauge of public sentiment for the job Congress is doing sank to a record low, with 10 percent of Americans registering approval in a poll taken Feb. 2-5. That’s down from 13 percent in January and a previous low of 11 percent in December.
Of those surveyed, 86 percent disapproved of the job Congress is doing. That ties with a record disapproval rating set in December.
“Americans’ perceptions of Congress are not rising in concert with these other measures,” Newport said. “As Americans get more positive about other things, they are not getting more positive about Congress.”
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