Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Two Economies: Government Workers Optimistic, Private Sector Not

Not surprisingly, given a pro-government president, government employees are much more bullish about the economy than those who work in the private sector. That’s a big change from the beginning of the year when those on the public payroll were a bit more pessimistic than private sector workers.

Data from the Rasmussen Consumer Index from the past seven days shows that a plurality of government workers think the economy is getting better while those who work in the private sector tend to have the opposite view. Those in the government sector are also more upbeat about the current state of the economy and their own personal finances.

Today, 46% of government employees say the economy is getting better while just 31% say it’s getting worse. Among those who work in the private sector, the numbers are reversed: 32% say better and 49% worse.

Twenty-four percent (24%) of government employees rate the economy as good or excellent while just nine percent (9%) of those in the private sector are so upbeat.

Fifty-five percent (55%) in the private sector rate the economy as poor, a pessimism shared by 38% of those on the public payroll.

Forty-four percent (44%) of government employees rate their own personal finances as good or excellent while 33% of private sector workers do the same.

Among those on the government payroll, 31% say their finances are getting better, and 40% say they’re getting worse. The comparable private sector numbers are 23% better and 47% worse.

These figures reflect a dramatic change from January 2009, with a growing optimism among government workers.

The Obama administration estimates that federal spending will reach 28% of GDP in 2009, up from 19% a decade ago. It’s the largest share of the economy consumed by the federal government since the fighting stopped in World War II.

In the private sector, such growth would be considered boom times for any industry, and government employees have undergone a remarkable change in attitude over the course of the year. In January, just 22% of government workers thought the economy was getting better, a figure that has jumped to 46% today. The number of government workers who think the economy has gotten worse has fallen in an equally dramatic manner, from 61% in January to 31% today.

Among those who work in the private sector, however, the change has been far less significant. In fact, the number of private sector workers who think things are getting better has improved just six points, from 26% up to 32%.

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