Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Americans are becoming more optimistic about the U.S. economy, almost a year after the start of the coronavirus crisis as multiple companies are nearing distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, a Gallup survey showed Wednesday.
Gallup reported the findings of its latest Economic Confidence Index, which measures sentiment in the United States throughout each year. It said the index is now at a -1 -- up from -4 a month ago. The -1 rating is the index's highest since the early weeks of the pandemic in March.
The index sank to a -33 rating in April when businesses and schools closed nationwide in response to the spread of the coronavirus. Before the health crisis, the index had a 44 rating.
Gallup asked U.S. adults if they believe the economic climate is excellent, good, fair or poor, and whether it's improving or getting worse.
"It has since been improving gradually and is now back to the level seen just before the 2016 election," Gallup wrote, noting that the new rating reflects "a period of record highs in the stock market, starting Nov. 9 after Pfizer's announcement that its COVID-19 vaccine appears to be highly effective."
The new figures were collected last month after the presidential election and a government report showing unemployment had fallen below 7%
In the spring, 43% rated economic conditions as "poor." That figure is now down to 23%, the lowest number of the coronavirus era and 6 points better than the last survey.
Gallup also found that 55% said the economy is getting worse and 40% said it's improving.
"Americans' views of the U.S. economy continues to become less negative, as much of the economy has reopened after this spring's shutdowns and the employment situation gradually improves," Gallup added. "Yet, this is more at the margins of opinion than overall, because the majority still call the economy 'poor' or 'only fair,' rather than 'excellent' or even 'good.'
"Further, with no economic stimulus plan in the works at the time of the poll and widespread distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine still months away, the majority continue to believe economic conditions are worsening rather than improving."
Gallup polled more than 1,000 adults nationwide for the survey, which has a margin of error of 4 points.