Sept 17 - Americans' views of seven industries are substantially improved this year, based on increases of 10 points or more in the industries' net positive ratings. The banking, travel and real estate industries show the greatest improvements. Healthcare is the only industry to see a decline of at least 10 points, although the retail, computer and pharmaceutical industries were close to that threshold.
The results are based on Gallup's annual Work and Education poll, conducted Aug. 7-11, 2013. Each year since 2001, Gallup has asked Americans to rate 25 different business sectors and industries on a five-point scale ranging from "very positive" to "very negative." The net ratings are the difference between the positive and negative ratings for each industry.
Broader improvement in the economy and increased consumer confidence may be behind the more positive ratings of the banking, real estate, travel, airline and automobile industries.
Despite improving the most this year, the banking industry continues to be rated more negatively than positively by Americans. But its ratings are the best since 2008, a month before the financial crisis threatened the existence of AIG and other major financial institutions. And prior to the 2008-2009 recession, Americans had a significantly more positive than negative view of banking.
The improvements in ratings of the real estate industry likely are due to the recovery of the housing market from the depths of the housing crisis. Now, about as many Americans view that industry positively as negatively, for the first time since 2007.
Both banking and real estate have more ground to make up to return to their formerly positive ratings from before the recession, housing and financial crises. But they are at least back to where they were when the recession started.
Most industries' ratings suffered during the recession. In 2008, 13 industries had net negative ratings. That number is down to eight this year, including real estate and electric and gas utilities, with scores of -1.
Thus, as the economy has shown signs of improvement, Americans' views of many U.S. industries have improved. So a healthier economy will likely boost industry ratings, in addition to the effects from more industry-specific improvements that have occurred recently in the real estate and automobile industries.