Post-Election: 1 in 3 Americans Are Not Confident in the Financial Future of the U.S. Economy

The dust from the historic and controversial 2016 presidential election is beginning to settle, and it’s probably fair to say that supporters of Donald Trump and of Hillary Clinton are still a little amazed by the results. Now that it’s over and it’s known that President-elect Trump will take over the reins of the country on Jan. 20, what’s the outlook for the U.S. economy? Will it — and how will it — affect the wallets of individual voters?

GOBankingRates wanted to know if voters are more or less hopeful about the U.S. economy now than they were a week ago when we surveyed 1,000 respondents. At the time — before the country knew who would be elected president — the survey found that respondents expected that their financial futures were rather bleak.

This week, GOBankingRates asked a smaller sampling of respondents — 143 in total — whether that had changed. The results show that it didn’t change — at least not much.

Learn: Donald Trump’s 20 Changes for the U.S. Economy

Do Americans Feel That Things Are Looking Up?

GOBankingRates asked some of the same questions that were asked last week:

  • What is your annual household income?
  • How confident are you that unemployment will decrease in the next four years?
  • How confident are you that employee wages will increase in the next four years?
  • How confident are you that the wealth gap between the rich and the poor will decrease in the next four years?
  • How confident are you that homeownership will become more affordable in the next four years?

But instead of asking which candidate respondents felt they were likely to vote for, participants were asked how confident they were in the financial future of the U.S. economy now that the election has been decided. Slightly more than 30 percent of respondents indicated that they were not confident at all. The fewest — 20 percent — replied that they were very confident. Of those who were not the least bit confident, the majority were women and had annual household incomes between $0 and $24,999.

Here’s the breakdown overall:

  • 30 percent said they were “not confident at all” in the financial future of the U.S. economy.
  • 26 percent said they were “slightly confident.”
  • Almost 25 percent said they were “somewhat confident.”
  • 20 percent said they were “very confident.”

How confident are you in the financial future of the U.S. economy? infographic

So is the glass half full or is it half empty? The respondents were equally divided between the extremes — not confident and very confident — and being somewhere in the middle. Almost 50 percent indicated that they were at least slightly or somewhat confident that things might look up

Will There Be More Jobs Under President-Elect Trump?

When asked how confident they were that unemployment will decrease in the next four years, respondents were equally divided again, this time between being not at all confident and being somewhat confident. Those who were very confident brought up the rear again. Among this small faction, more men were confident than women. Most — 33 percent — were between the ages of 25 and 34. Those who had the most faith — 50 percent of this group — enjoyed household incomes over $150,000. Overall, here’s how it broke down:

  • 32 percent said they were “not confident at all” that unemployment will go down.
  • 32 percent said they were “somewhat confident.”
  • 20 percent said they were “slightly confident.”
  • 16 percent said they were “very confident.”

How confident are you that unemployment will decrease in the next 4 years? infographic

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Will Workers Earn More?

The trend continued when respondents were asked if they expect that wages will increase under Trump. Most — 32 percent — said they thought it was unlikely, and those who were very confident in an increase were again in the minority at just 17 percent.

But compare this to last week’s survey: Only 13 percent indicated at that time that they were very confident that wages would increase, so there’s been a slight uptick now that the election is behind us. Again, the most confident among this group were men (28 percent), those in the 25- to 34-year-old age group and with household incomes in excess of $150,000 a year.

  • 32 percent were “not confident at all” that wages would increase.
  • 30 percent were “somewhat confident.”
  • 20 percent were “slightly confident.”
  • 18 percent were “very confident.”

How confident are you that employment wages will increase in the next 4 years? infographic

Will the Wealth Gap Close?

According to the Pew Research Center, the gap between America’s wealthiest citizens and the country’s middle- and lower-income families peaked in 2013 when the Center last made a comprehensive study. At that time, the median income of the country’s upper class was nearly seven times greater than that of middle income families. Will that improve under President-elect Trump? Survey respondents think not.

Responses remained consistent when they were asked about the wealth gap between the rich and the poor. A significant percentage — in fact, more than half — of respondents were not confident that it would shrink in the next four years. Once again, those who identified as “very confident” were in the minority at just under 9 percent. But this is up slightly from the 6 percent who were very confident before the election.

Overall, our respondents felt that the chasm between the haves and the have-nots will remain, regardless of who has been elected president. Men and women were close to equally divided on this issue. The opinion pretty much spanned all age groups and family income levels.

  • 55 percent were “not confident at all” that the wealth gap between the rich and the poor will decrease in the next four years.
  • 18 percent were “slightly confident.”
  • 18 percent were “somewhat confident.”
  • 8 percent were “very confident.”

How confident are you that the wealth gap between the rich and poor will decrease in the next 4 years? infographic

Will More People Get to Pursue the American Dream?

Homeownership is the American dream. Will it become even more possible for the masses under President-elect Trump? Close to half our respondents felt that homeownership would not become more affordable in the next four years. A slim minority was very confident that it would, and again, their small numbers doubled from the first GOBankingRates survey before the election: They numbered 5 percent a week ago compared to almost 10 percent after the election.

  • 45 percent were “not confident at all” that homeownership will become more affordable.
  • 27 percent were “slightly confident.”
  • 18 percent were “somewhat confident.”
  • 10 percent were “very confident.”

How confident are you that homeownership will become more affordable in the next 4 years? infographic

Americans Aren’t Particularly Encouraged

The overall takeaway is that the majority of Americans still have a jaundiced view of the U.S. economy. They weren’t hopeful before the election, and that hasn’t changed a great deal since last Tuesday’s results were tallied up. Those who were hopeful last week are, in some respects, a smidgen more hopeful today. Most of those who felt the outlook was dismal last week haven’t changed their opinions. Only time will tell if they’re right or wrong.

Find Out: What a Fed Rate Hike Means for Your Money

Methodology: This GOBankingRates.com survey asked 143 respondents to answer the following questions with “very confident,” “somewhat confident,” “slightly confident” and “not confident at all”: 

  • How confident are you in the financial future of the US economy?
  • How confident are you that unemployment will decrease in the next 4 years?
  • How confident are you that employee wages will increase in the next 4 years?
  • How confident are you that the wealth gap between the rich and the poor will decrease in the next 4 years?
  •  How confident are you that homeownership will become more affordable in the next 4 years?

Respondents were also asked, “What is your annual household income?” and were given the following choices:

  • $0-$24,999
  • $25,000-$49,999
  • $50,000-$74,999
  • $75,000-$99,999
  • $100,000-$149,999
  • $150,000+

Responses were collected through a Survata survey conducted from Nov. 9, 2016, and responses are representative of the U.S. online population. The survey has a 3.1 percent margin of error.