Friday Wrap II: Bookending the week’s news on consumer views

Monday we cited a Gallup poll reporting a sharp decline in Americans’ satisfaction with the direction the country is headed. The polling indicates a similar decline in economic confidence. One takeaway from the reports is that an emphasis on education and upward mobility will improve both prospects and confidence. 

A new Bloomberg report affirmed the Gallup findings. 

A measure tracking the economic outlook fell by 6 points to 44 this month, data from the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index showed Thursday. Thirty-nine percent said the U.S. economy is getting worse, the largest share since the federal government shutdown 19 months ago.

“The increase in negative expectations occurred among a disparate collection of groups, indicating a generalized retrenchment,” Gary Langer, president of Langer Research Associates LLC in New York, which produces the data for Bloomberg, said in a statement.

The decline, as the report notes, occurs despite some good economic news, particularly in housing and employment. Still, analysts suggest, rising gas prices and wage stagnation doubtless contribute to declining confidence in lower income households. 

The uneven economy extends to recent college graduates, depending on their academic majors, as the Seattle Times reports. 

[The job market is] largely brighter than last year — and especially so for engineering and computer-science majors — but also continues to present challenges to job seekers.

The demand for graduates with STEM skills is particularly high.

Students majoring in engineering, business and computer science continue to be the most in demand among the Class of 2015, with engineering majors commanding the highest starting salaries, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Within the UW’s highly ranked computer-science and engineering program, many of the graduating students had lined up jobs by last fall.

We’ve written previously,

Education expands opportunity. By 2020, 70 percent of Washington jobs will require postsecondary education or training. Preparing our students for these opportunities requires high-quality education at every level.

The Times article makes the case again, pointing out that …

The U.S. unemployment rate is down to 5.4 percent…

The unemployment rate for college graduates was even lower. For 16- to 24-year-olds with bachelor’s degrees, it was 4.7 percent in April. High-school graduates had a jobless rate of 13.3 percent.  

Education – our Achieve goal – is critical to our the state’s economic growth and the opportunities available for all Washingtonians.