Almost half of the nation’s voters believe the U.S. economy has worsened since sequestration kicked in on March 1, according to the The Hill’s first survey conducted after the deadline.
Even more – 56 percent – said the $85 billion package of automatic spending cuts will only continue to hurt the economy, repeating the opinions expressed by several analysts, who previously warned the sequester would only damage the nation’s fragile economic recovery.
The cuts, in addition to downsizing a number of key federal social safety net programs that aid poor women and children, also resulted in the furloughing of thousands of government workers.
So far, there have been no obvious signs of damage. Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the economy added 236,000 new jobs in February, and unemployment dropped to 7.7 percent. The Dow Jones industrial average also hit record highs for four days in a row.
However, February’s numbers obviously measured job growth before the potentially negative effects of sequestration. Plus, the Dow Jones average, as several reporters have pointed out, is not an accurate measure of economic improvement for the average citizen.
Interestingly, while a plurality of voters said the automatic spending cuts will generally be a detriment to the economy, 46 percent still said they were not expecting those cuts to have a negative effect on their personal circumstances.
Party affiliation had a strong correlation with voters’ opinion on the issue. Republicans (67 percent) were three times as likely to say the economy is worsening than Democrats (26 percent). Plus, the highly valued independent voter (in this case, individuals who identified as “other”) were far more likely to agree with Democrats: 55 percent said the economy is weakening, while 22 percent said it is improving.