Just 5.4% of Rhode Islanders described economic conditions in the United States as excellent or good in 2011, the smallest share in any state, according to Gallup polling. That was down from the already minuscule 7% who felt that way in 2010.
Oregon had the second-fewest optimists in 2011, but even they had 7.2%. More than half of Rhode Island residents – 52.9% – described the economy as poor last year, compared with 51% who said so in 2010.
Moreover, Gallup found Rhode Islanders’ confidence about the economy has barely budged in the last three years.
Those responses gave Rhode Island a score of minus-43 in Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index for 2011, tied for third-lowest in the nation. That’s an improvement from the state’s rock-bottom score of minus-63 back in 2008, but worse than its scores of minus-39 and minus-41 in 2010 and 2009, respectively.
“Gallup Daily tracking each day asks Americans to assess the current state of the U.S. economy and to say whether the economy is getting better or worse,” the firm said. “The responses to these two questions are combined into Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index.” Negative scores mean more pessimism.
The most economically confident place by far was Washington, D.C., which registered a minus-4, a full 22 points ahead of second-ranked North Dakota despite the latter’s much lower unemployment rate.
“One possibility is that the poll is wrong,” The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein suggested. “Another is that the political nature of the economic crisis leaves residents of Washington feeling more in control than residents of other states. But the truth is that I don’t have a good explanation for this result. Do you?”