The folks in DC are not like you and me (photo: Dave Reid, flickr)

I know that because of the large percentage of federal employees, lobbyists and other factors about the nature of government contracting that the District of Columbia isn’t nearly as susceptible to an economic downturn as the rest of the country. But I still find these numbers from Gallup on economic confidence shocking.

According to their polling, the DC economic confidence index number is -4. In comparison the state with the highest economic confidence index is North Dakota, which is currently experiencing a fossil fuel boom; yet even North Dakota’s economic confidence index number is -26. All other states are worse (less optimistic). From Gallup:

Top 10 States, Gallup Economic Confidence Index, 2011

This is a massive disparity between DC and even the states that are doing relatively well. The gap between DC and the rest of the country, which has a national economic confidence index of -37, is even more dramatic.

I can’t help but think that this huge gap between DC and the rest of the country plays a part in the fact that over the last three years Congress simply hasn’t been focused solely on the economy and doing everything possible to quickly reduce unemployment. Our unemployment rate is an epic ongoing national disaster, but it is not getting the response a disaster of this scale deserves.

I imagine this kind of huge gap in perceptions about the economy helped lead federal politicians to think a pivot to immediate deficit reduction in 2010 was a smart move. It likely played a role in top media figures in Washington reporting that shift as a totally responsible thing to do at the time.

When it comes to perceptions about the state of the economy the Washington DC beltway seems to live in a bubble, an almost completely different planet from the rest of America. And the Occupy movement deserves at least part of the credit for piercing this bubble.

Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at