- by theguardian
- 21 Sep 2023
Strolling past the colorfully restored Victorian homes of the Fourth Ward, watching the barman hand-carve blocks of ice for old-fashioneds at the jam-packed bar of the Crunkleton, it's easy to fall for Charlotte's ample southern charms. And yet, people are not happy - at least according to the polls.
Consumer sentiment in North Carolina is now lower than it was at the height of the pandemic, according to High Point University's confidence tracker. "People are just not feeling particularly good," said Martin Kifer, director of the university's survey research center.
North Carolina is not alone. Official figures suggest the US pulled off an astonishing recovery from the Covid pandemic and recession.
More than 20 million people in the US lost their jobs in April 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic shuttered the world's largest economy. The unemployment rate rose to 14.7%. But the rebound was just as dramatic. Unemployment has hovered near 50-year lows since January 2022 and is now 3.8%. In North Carolina, it's just 3.3%. More than 100 people are moving to the city every day.
But as an exclusive Guardian/Harris Poll survey found this week, two-thirds (68%) of Americans report it's difficult to be happy about positive economic news when they feel financially squeezed each month.
Across the country, poll after poll shows people are not feeling it. That's not good news for the Biden administration, particularly in a potential swing state where the perceived success - or failure - of "Bidenomics", as Biden has dubbed his economic strategy, will be one of the key issues in next year's election.
The election is still a way out, and Biden has proven pollsters wrong in the past. Nevertheless, the economy - or voters' perception of it - will be a defining issue in one of the most consequential elections in US history.
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