Economy Attitude Gloomy in U.S., Europe, Pew Report Says

Fewer than a third of Americans and Europeans perceive their national economy is doing well amid high unemployment and the European debt crisis, a Pew Research Center report found.

In the U.S., 31 percent see the economic situation as good, up from 20 percent in 2008, according to the survey in 21 countries. A median of 16 percent of Europeans said their economy is performing well, including only 2 percent of Greeks, and 6 percent of those in Italy and Spain.

Economic attitudes have been hurt in most of the world following the U.S. recession, which ended in June 2009, and the European crisis, the research organization said. U.S. unemployment was 8.2 percent last month and has exceeded 8 percent since February 2009, the longest such stretch since monthly records began in 1948.

“The economic mood is exceedingly glum all around the world,” the report said. “In the wake of four years of economic turmoil around the world and political upheaval in a number of nations, very few people are satisfied with the way things are going in their country.”

Views on the economy may play a central role in the President Barack Obama’s campaign for re-election. Obama said after the employment report July 6 that adding jobs was “a step in the right direction” while the economy needs to grow “even faster.” Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney called the unemployment report “another kick in the gut.”

China, Germany

A median of 27 percent of people think their national economy is doing well, according to the survey. That was led by China and Germany, where 83 percent and 73 percent, respectively, perceive a good national situation. Brazil and Turkey were the only other nations where most people were upbeat, Pew said.

Support for capitalism also declined. Sixty-seven percent in the U.S. agreed most people are better off in a free-market economy even though some people are rich and some poor, down from 76 percent in 2009. Declines of 10 percentage points or more since 2007 occurred in Italy, Spain, Poland, the U.K., Lebanon, Pakistan and Japan among 21 nations surveyed, Pew said.

The survey was based on telephone and face-to-face interviews conducted under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates International. Results were based on national samples except in China, where there was “disproportional sampling of the urban population,” Pew said. The U.S. survey included 1,011 people and had a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points, Pew said.

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