Originally published Saturday, August 27, 2011 at 4:20 PM

Washington state's glumness index dives off the charts

Pollster Stuart Elway put an exclamation point on what many Washington state residents are feeling. Expectations about the future are at an all-time low.

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WASHINGTONIANS are smart enough to know instinctively — without a poll — that expectations about the future are down in the dumps. Way, way down.

Pollster Stuart Elway put an exclamation point on what many people feel. His latest poll asks voters if they expect things to get better during the next year for the country, the state, community and their own households.

The optimism — or, in this case, pessimism — index plunged below zero, the lowest since he began polling in 1991. (Yes, even lower than the depths of the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009.)

Statewide, voters have what you might call recession fatigue. They expected things to be better by now, but that's not really happening. We all know about recessions. They come, they go. They are not supposed to last this long.

Elway says his polls showed a couple of years ago voters expected things to get better in less than two years. Those years have passed and the improvement, if that is the right word, ranges from subtle to imperceptible.

Economist Dick Conway says employment in the Puget Sound region dropped 7 percent during the Great Recession. During the past year, it edged up 1.5 percent, leaving a very long way to catch up.

August didn't provide much help. It was a dismal month all the way around. There were revisions in how much the national gross domestic product declined during the recession — 5 percent, not 4 percent so, again, a bigger hole to dig out of.

The unpleasant machinations in Washington, D.C., regarding the debt ceiling prompted a drop in the U.S. credit rating and a tanking of the stock market.

Another more subtle change in the Elway poll: Fewer people now think state government can help with job creation. Locally and nationally, it feels like we are out of gas or out of ideas.

So here we are. Resetting expectations. Hunkering down for another time of uncertainty. After all people have been through — and they have experienced a lot — that is glumness. Squared.


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