Restaurants Again Voted Most Popular U.S. Industry

Aug 16, 2016

Restaurants Again Voted Most Popular U.S. Industry

  • Restaurants lead industries with 66% positive, 7% negative ratings
  • Computer industry a close second at 66% positive, 13% negative
  • Federal government again ranked last

PRINCETON, N.J. -- The restaurant and computer industries, long among the best-rated U.S. industries in Gallup's annual measure of U.S. business sectors, again lead the poll, with 66% of Americans rating each positively. However, with only 7% of Americans viewing the restaurant industry negatively vs. 13% for the computer industry, the restaurant industry enjoys the more positive overall image this year.

The restaurant and computer sectors have vied for the most well-reviewed U.S. industry in each of Gallup's annual measures of this question since 2001. This year's +59 net-positive score for the restaurant industry is well above its average +51 since 2001, whereas the computer industry's +53 net-positive score is about average for that industry.

Two other industries connected with food -- grocery and farming/agriculture -- rank near the top in the Aug. 3-7 poll. The remaining six industries in the top 10 represent a hodgepodge of sectors including the accounting, travel, internet, automobile, retail and real estate industries. All of these enjoy better than 2-to-1 positive over negative ratings.

Americans view another 10 industries no worse than neutrally, but in most cases net-positively. The telephone and airline industries lead this group, and it includes several entertainment and communication-related arenas: sports, movies, television and radio, publishing and advertising. Electric and gas utilities, education and banking also make this list.

Top-Rated U.S. Business Sectors -- Better Than 2-to-1 Positive
For each of the following business sectors in the United States, please say whether your overall view of it is very positive, somewhat positive, neutral, somewhat negative or very negative.

Total positiveNeutralTotal negativeNet positive
%%%pct. pts.
Restaurant industry 66 27 7 +59
Computer industry 66 19 13 +53
Grocery industry 54 28 18 +36
Farming and agriculture 55 23 20 +35
Accounting 45 40 12 +33
Travel industry 48 33 16 +32
Internet industry 53 21 24 +29
Automobile industry 50 26 23 +27
Retail industry 49 26 23 +26
Real estate industry 44 31 21 +23

Federal Government Edges Out Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare at Bottom

The bottom five industries are all reviewed more negatively than positively, with three -- the federal government, pharmaceuticals and healthcare -- receiving negative ratings from more than half of the public. The legal field plus oil and gas have just slightly higher negative than positive ratings. While fairly typical for the legal field, this represents a significantly improved positioning for the oil and gas industry, which had skewed strongly negative from 2004 through 2014.

Worst-Rated U.S. Business Sectors -- Net-Negative Ratings
For each of the following business sectors in the United States, please say whether your overall view of it is very positive, somewhat positive, neutral, somewhat negative or very negative.
Total positiveNeutralTotal negativeNet positive
%%%pct. pts.
Oil and gas industry 37 17 44 -7
The legal field 31 28 39 -8
Healthcare industry 34 12 54 -20
Pharmaceutical industry 28 19 51 -23
The federal government 28 16 55 -27

Airline Industry Improves; Healthcare and Pharma Sink

The biggest improvement in industry ratings this year is for the airline industry, with its +15 net-positive rating up from +3 in 2015, and by far its best rating in more than a decade.

Airline Industry -- Net Positive Ratings, 2001-2016

Two other industries -- healthcare and pharmaceuticals -- have gone down in public esteem. Although Democrats continue to be more positive than Republicans about the healthcare industry, as they have since 2013 when major components of the Affordable Care Act began to take effect, the healthcare industry is now at a five-year low. Its -20 net-positive score is down from -6 in 2015 and the lowest since 2011 because of declines in the past year among all party groups.

Relatedly, the pharmaceutical industry's -23 net-positive score is the worst in Gallup's 16-year trend, down from -8 in 2015.

Posted in Dr. Ken Hardwood, Featured Articles.