A few days ago, Catherine Rampell wrote a piece for the Washington Post headlined, “Nearly Everything Americans Believe About The Economy Is Wrong.” She based it on a recent poll which found…

Roughly half (49 percent) of Americans believe the unemployment rate is at a 50-year high. Reality is, again, nearly the opposite: Unemployment has been below 4 percent for more than two years now, the longest stretch of time it’s stayed that low since the Nixon administration.

Roughly half of respondents (49 percent) also said stock markets were down since the beginning of the year. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 is up more than 10 percent, and major equity-market indexes have recently touched all-time highs.

Why are our perceptions so distorted?

For starters, I blame her newspaper and every other media outlet for not doing a better job explaining the reality. The economy didn’t just get better in the last month. It’s been trending positive for a couple of years, but that kind of good news rarely gets reported because it isn’t click-bait.

Or perhaps they’re holding back because they fear doing so would benefit President Biden — under whom the American economy has grown, not shrunk — and they don’t want to be attacked by MAGA morons who would claim it as more proof of bias. But since when should an honest news organization hold back the truth?

I would also argue that pollsters should simply stop asking regular people about the economy. We have no idea what all the components of the economy are. We have no familiarity with consumption indices, gross domestic product, or inflation.

All we know is whether we have some money in the bank and can afford the stuff that keeps us alive every day. But that’s not the same as the economy of the entire nation, which is a much more complicated subject.

I bet if you randomly asked a dozen economists — people who specialize in this and have advanced degrees and should always be ready with an answer to the question — how the economy’s doing, you’d get twelve different responses. Okay, maybe not twelve, but at least three.

And certainly don’t put the question to any economist who was absolutely, positively, 100% sure we’d have a recession last summer. Oops, they meant the fourth quarter of last year. Um, make that the first quarter of this year. Er, second quarter?