President Trump's approval rating gained two points in March, bringing his approval rating to 37%, the highest approval rating for Trump since last September. The March poll also found that the level of financial stress in the country has reached a new low.
While Trump's approval rating edged up, his disapproval rating remained unchanged from last month at 58%. His favorability rating was unchanged from February at -19 (38% viewing his leadership favorably vs. 57% who view him unfavorably).
The IBD/TIPP Presidential Leadership Index remained essentially unchanged at 39.9. This index combines survey questions on the president's leadership, favorability and job approval.
Trump continues to score better when asked about his performance specifically on the economy and terrorism. Forty-two percent give the president high marks for his handling of the economy, and 41% for his handling of the terrorism threat.
The March IBD/TIPP Poll was conducted from Feb. 22 to March 1 and includes responses from 901 people nationwide, giving it a margin of error of +/-3.3 percentage points.
Less Financial Stress
Trump's approval rating might have been buoyed somewhat by the public's increasingly sunny view of their own financial situation in the wake of the tax cuts he signed into law in late December.
The exclusive IBD/TIPP Financial Related Stress Index dropped to 51.1 (the lower the number, the less stress). That is the lowest this index has been since it's inception in December 2007, the first month of the last recession, when the index registered 62.3.
In December — before the Republican tax cut was passed — the index stood at 54.1. In January, it dropped sharply to 51.5.
"Americans' financial stress levels are at record low levels as a result of a great labor market, stock market and the recent tax overhaul," said Raghavan Mayur, President of TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, which conducts the monthly IBD/TIPP Poll.
"The labor market is edging closer to full employment, hourly wages grew at a solid rate of 2.9% in January, the fastest pace since June 2009. In addition, most employees are expected to see larger paychecks as a result of the tax overhaul, which cut the corporate rate to 21%, and reduced individual tax rates virtually across the board," Mayur said. "According to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center, around 80% of taxpayers will see a tax cut in 2018, for an average of $1,600."
Financial stress continues to diverge along party lines, however. Democrats, who are largely opposed to the president and his agenda, remain the most stressed demographic group at 66.4. Republicans continue to report the least amount of stress over their personal finances. In fact, stress among Republican consumers dropped to 34.6 in March, its lowest level since March 2017.
In contrast, under Obama, Republican stress levels were higher and Democrats' lower, although the Democratic Stress Index never dipped below 43 during Obama's eight years in office.
Among independents, however, the Stress Index fell below 50 for the first time since this poll started, to reach 49.6 in March.
Investors are feeling much less financial stress today than non-investors, the poll found. The Stress Index for investors dropped to 45.7 in March — despite the recent market turbulence — compared with 56.7 for non-investors.
Another measure of well-being is the Quality of Life Index, which climbed 3% to 61.8, the highest level since October 2004.
Fewer 'Job Sensitive' Households
The IBD/TIPP poll also asks about job status in each household. In March, 15.5% of households said that one or more people in their household were looking for jobs, down slightly from February. In June of last year, nearly 17% of households had at least one job seeker.
According to an analysis of the IBD/TIPP polling data on jobs, this translates into 12.2% of the labor force. That is up slightly from February, but down from 13% last June. This measure has been consistently higher than the official unemployment rate.
The share of "job sensitive" households, however, continues to decline, reaching 24% in March. That marks the fourth straight monthly drop in this measure, which combines households that say that either someone is looking for work or is concerned about losing a job.
Other Poll Findings
Only 17% say the economy is in a recession, up two points from last month, but well below the level from one year ago, when a quarter of the public said the economy was in a recession.
Fifty-six percent say the economy is improving, which is down two points from last month, but also up from a year ago.
Forty-four percent say they are satisfied with the direction of the country, down a point from last month. That's higher than the 41.7% average since IBD/TIPP started tracking this in February 2001.
But just 24% say they're satisfied with the direction of the country when it comes to morals and ethics. That's well below the 17-year average of 36%.
Methodology: The March IBD/TIPP Poll was conducted on Feb. 22 to March 1. It includes responses from 901 people nationwide, who were asked questions by live interviewers on phones. The poll's margin of error is +/-3.3 percentage points.
The IBD/TIPP Poll has been credited as being the most accurate poll in the past four presidential elections, and was one of only two that correctly predicted the outcome of the November presidential election.
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