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Overall Economic Growth vs. Personal Finances

Does confidence in the direction of personal finances drive sentiment on economic growth, or is it the other way around?

Perhaps surprisingly, trends over time in the Rasmussen Reports Consumer Index suggest that confidence in the overall economy does not lead to confidence about personal finances, and vice versa. 

During the week ending February 20, 2011, just 24% of American adults believed their own personal finances were getting better. At the same time, 31% believed that the U.S. economy was improving.  

Both figures are up significantly from two years ago. However, it’s interesting to note that perceptions of the overall economy since then have improved much more than perceptions of personal finances.

In fact, there has been a reversal of roles. As the graph below indicates, during 2008 and the first two months of 2009, Americans were more pessimistic about the economy than about their personal finances. The gap began to close after Barack Obama took office in late January 2009.

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