The average US business sector rating is the worst since 2008

The average US business sector rating is the worst since 2008


The main points of the story

  • The average positive rating across 25 industries is 36%, near 34% a record low
  • Grocery industry’s positive rating drops 14 points
  • No business sectors showing significant positive increases since 2021

WASHINGTON, DC – The average positive rating of Americans for 25 American business and manufacturing sectors driving the nation’s economy has fallen to its lowest level since the Great Recession. The latest positive median reading of 36% indicates a decline of nine percentage points since 2020, including a decline of three points over the past year. These declines coincide with a decline in Americans’ confidence in the country’s institutions and economy amid conflicts caused by high inflation.

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Every year since 2001, Gallup has asked Americans to rate 24 or 25 different business sectors and industries on a five-point scale ranging from “very positive” to “very negative.” The current reading of 36%, taken from the Gallup Poll for Work and Education August 1-23, represents the average of “very” and “fairly” positive ratings across all sectors. While the rating of 34% in 2008 was a record low, it was a record high of 49% in 2017.

The overall ranking is fairly stable

The restaurant sector (60%) and agriculture/agriculture (57%) are the only two sectors with positive majority-level ratings this year. On the other end of the spectrum, three entities have negative ratings at the majority level: oil/gas (62%), pharmaceuticals (58%), and the federal government (58%).

Rankings for three industries have fallen significantly this year. The grocery industry fell 14 points to a positive 40%, real estate fell nine points to 34%, and advertising/public relations fell eight points to 26%, a record low for the industry.

The more negative ratings for the grocery and real estate industries likely reflect a sharp rise in food and housing prices, making both less affordable. It’s also possible that higher gas prices are behind the oil and gas industry’s weak ratings, which are now the worst since 2012, although much of the drop in oil and gas ratings happened last year, when gas prices started to climb rapidly.

Although no significant change has been seen in the past year, many other business sectors are at record lows, at least by one or two percentage points – the computer, film, pharmaceutical and publishing industries.

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Agriculture and agriculture have ranked first among sectors since 2016, and the restaurant industry has been at or near the top of the list for most years since 2001. The computer industry, which has historically been the most positively rated sector, has declined in recent years. Similarly, the grocery industry has historically been among the top-rated industries but has fallen in esteem this year, as it did in 2008.

Meanwhile, the federal government has been the lowest-ranked industry each year since 2014, and at 25% this year, it primarily correlates with the oil and gas industry (22%) for the lowest. Prior to 2014, the oil and gas industry was often ranked as the worst. Although its rating is currently low, it is up 15% from the record low readings in 2006 and 2008, when gas prices were also high.

Average Republican rating flat, Democrats slipping

While last year’s overall decline in positivity toward business was largely driven by deteriorating ratings among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, this year’s is due to Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents. The average Democrats’ recent 39% rating has fallen seven points since last year. While it represents a significant drop, it is higher than the 33% drop for Democrats recorded in 2008.

Republicans’ low positive ratings for the industry last year appeared to be linked to their party’s loss of control of the White House and were more severe than any previous decline. The current average rating of 31% among Republicans is essentially unchanged from last year and is one point lower for that party.

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The biggest partisan gaps in positive ratings are for industries that Democrats rank better than Republicans. These include the federal government (31 points), the film industry (24 points), the education and publishing industry (19 points each), and the television and radio industry (18 points).

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Consumer pessimism about U.S. industry sectors has increased over the past few years after the average positive assessment of leading U.S. business sectors peaked at 49% in 2017. Since then, the computer and internet industries have seen the biggest declines, with many of those occurring prior to the pandemic. . The grocery, real estate, automobile, education, and oil and gas industries have also fallen sharply — most of them since the onset of the pandemic.

Of these, the grocery, real estate and advertising industries took the biggest hits in the past year, likely reflecting the public’s poor mood about inflation. Much of last year’s decline is due to Republicans. But with Republicans’ average industry rating already at a record low, Democrats had more room to fall this year, and they did.

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