Most Americans feel Washington has become a Land of Oz — completely out of touch with public pain, almost to the point of denial. Our politicians are akin to Nero who fiddled while Rome burned.
Here's a wake-up call from the latest IBD/TIPP Poll: Fully 29% of U.S. households have at least one job seeker and 35% are concerned that a member of their household may be laid off in the next 12 months.
Nearly one-half (47%) of households can be categorized as "job-sensitive," with at least one member looking for employment or concerned that a member might be laid off or both.
Here are 10 findings from our July poll that illustrate the pain:
1. Direction of country. Most Americans believe that the nation is badly off track. The figures are startling — 62% dissatisfied among all Americans, a whopping 70% dissatisfied for the job-sensitive and 54% dissatisfied for non-job sensitive.
2. Confidence in the job market. Confidence that the job market will improve significantly over the coming six months is universally low. Fully 58% describe the possibility of a job recovery as low. Among job-sensitive households, low confidence jumps to 66%. A majority (51%) of non-job sensitive households are pessimistic.
3. Likelihood of a second recession. Nearly half of job-sensitive (49%) households think the likelihood of the U.S. falling into a recession is high vs. 32% for non-job sensitive. Overall, two in five (40%) believe the economy will enter into another recession.
4. Possibility of economic depression. Two in five (42%) of the job-sensitive fear the economy will fall into a depression compared with only 19% of the non-job sensitive. Overall, the share of those who consider such a scenario high likely is only 30%.
5. Financial stress. Job-sensitive households have been experiencing very high financial-related stress. IBD/TIPP monitors financial stress using an index that ranges 0 to 100. The higher the number, the higher the stress. This month our financial stress index, a measure of personal financial-related stress, is 67.6 for job-sensitive, 54.1 for non-job sensitive and 60.6 for all.
6. Economic outlook. IBD/TIPP's Economic Outlook Index, a measure of how Americans feel about the economy's prospects in the next six months, is a very pessimistic 36 for job-sensitive households vs. 49.2 for the non-job sensitive. Readings above 50 indicate optimism, below 50 pessimism. In percentages, 44% of job-sensitive say that the economic outlook is bleak vs. 28% for non-job sensitive.
7. Personal financial outlook. The IBD/TIPP Personal Financial Outlook Index, a measure of how Americans feel about their own finances in the next six months, is also a pessimistic 47.3 for the job-sensitive contrasted with 54.1 for the non-job sensitive.
8. Satisfaction with federal economic policies. Fully 63% of job-sensitive households are unhappy with federal economic policies. Just 36% are satisfied. The non-job sensitive indicate satisfaction with government policies by a margin of 51% to 47%.
9. View of President Obama. A majority (52%) of job-sensitive give Obama poor grades for creating jobs and economic growth; 32% give him an F and 20% give him a D. Fully 45% of all Americans share the sentiment that Obama has not been successful at job creation.
10. Quality of life. IBD/TIPP's Quality of Life index, a measure of how Americans feel about their quality of life in the next six months, is a pessimistic 46.4 for the job-sensitive compared with 52.1 for the non-job sensitive.
Today, government data confirm our July poll's finding of growing distress in the job market.
Not only is unemployment at 9.5% — and not expected to go below 7% for at least two years — but, as the chart (above) shows, the duration of unemployment has soared during this recession. A worker today who loses his job can expect to remain unemployed on average for 35 weeks, nearly twice as long as in any other post-WWII recession.
Engaging in semantic equivocation and painting a rosy picture while simultaneously blaming the last occupant of the Oval Office has not alleviated the country's pain.
It's time Washington came up with true job-creation incentives for the private sector. The midterm elections would serve as a venue for the job-sensitive households to vent their frustration.
• Mayur is president of TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, which directs the IBD/TIPP Poll that was the most accurate in the last two presidential elections.