There is no doubt that America is in the midst of a historic economic expansion— GDP growth rate in the last quarter is at 4.2% and the unemployment rate is at its lowest in 48 years. But many Americans are not feeling the gains, according to a survey by Bankrate.com on Wednesday.
Seventy-two percent of the 1,001 respondents surveyed say their personal finances haven’t ismproved from two years ago. Personal finance includes not just income, but also the ability to pay back loans including credit card debt, student loans and mortgages.
Americans earning less than $30,000 per year are the least likely to experience any positive changes. In this group, 78% report that their financial situation hasn’t improved and 27% said it’s actually worse than it was two years ago. In contrast, more than half of people earning over $75,000 annually said they feel better about their financial situation.
“The broad economic data points may be pointing to improvement, but only 4 out of 10 of the people that we surveyed said that their situation had improved in the past two years, which means that there’s more work to do in the sense of having other people participate in the economic expansion in a satisfying way,” Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst for Bankrate.com, told Yahoo Finance.
Hamrick said participation in the stock market and the tax cut contribute to the gap. Only half of Americans are investing in the stock market, and the group with higher disposable income is more likely to benefit from the bull market, the longest since World War II. Since November 2016, the S&P 500 has been up 25%.
Some believe Trump is to blame
President Donald Trump has never been shy about taking credit for growth in the economy and the stock market rise. To some individuals, especially Democrats, he is also the reason why their finances haven’t improved.
Nearly one in three of those not seeing financial improvement blames Trump and/or Republicans in Congress for the stalled or declining state of their personal finances. Among those who have seen financial gains, Republicans who feel like their personal finances improved are more likely to give the president credit.
This may have implications for the upcoming midterm election, as some link their finances to a political party and the president in office. Trump touted his massive tax cut bill, claiming it’ll create jobs in America, but it also benefits many wealthier individuals. As the stock market falls and begins a wild run, Trump has repeatedly blamed the Federal Reserve and its decision to raise interest rates in the past month.
“President Trump has sought to, in many ways, make himself the issue, to sort of associate his brand with the branding of the United States economy,” Hamrick said. “He doesn’t necessarily want to take the blame for problems, but he certainly wants to take the credit [for the growth].”
Krystal Hu covers technology and economy for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.