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POLL: Americans Severely Underestimate How Many Jobs We're Adding

A new Business Insider-SurveyMonkey Audience poll has found that Americans know shockingly little about the budget, federal deficits and major top line economic indicators.

We asked about 500 respondents to write in an estimate of several different statistics, including jobs statistics.

A majority of respondents did know the unemployment rate is down over the past year, from 8.1% in August of 2012 to 7.3% in August of 2013. Still, 28% thought unemployment was up and another 16% thought it was unchanged.

But here’s where it gets weird.

We also asked them to estimate how many jobs were added in the past 12 months.

In the past twelve months, the U.S. has added 2.2 million jobs.

And even though most respondents knew that unemployment has gone down, the average estimated number of jobs added was a mere 305,000.

Here’s how badly people misunderstand this.

  • Only 2% of respondents overestimated the number of jobs added.
  • 98% underestimated the number of jobs added.
  • 29% of respondents thought we lost jobs.
  • Many people guessed extremely small job gains. Of those who knew we added jobs, 49% guessed that the number added was less than 220,000: That is, less than 10% of the actual gain.

When President Obama gives speeches on the economy, he repeatedly cites figures on how many jobs have been created during his administration. The message doesn’t seem to be getting through.

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