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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Half of Americans are hopeful about their future despite a gloomy outlook for the economy, according to a new survey.
The poll of about 2,000 adults showed that although only 16 percent of Americans consider themselves well off, or upper middle class now, 50 percent think they will be in five to ten years.
But two thirds of those questioned said now they're just keeping even and they think the economy still hasn't bottomed out.
"Despite a sluggish economic recovery ... Americans are markedly optimistic that the future will be brighter for themselves and their families," said Michelle Peluso, the global consumer marketing and Internet officer for Citibank, which commissioned the poll.
"As people do their best to keep even, they continue to hope and expect that, over the longer term, the economy will improve and they will be able to advance," Peluso added in a statement.
Respondents to the survey, conducted by Hart Research Associates, were split as to whether local business conditions would improve, with 51 percent believing they would, which is 12 percent less than in January.
More than 60 percent thought their own financial situation would get better in the next year, down seven percent from the number who felt that way three months ago.
Big ticket manufacturers will be disheartened to learn that only 30 percent felt now was a good time for a major household purchase, a decline of six percent since January.
Gasoline, food and health care expenses had the greatest impact on cost of living, while state or local tax increases were most-cited (75 percent) for their potential negative impact.
But 66 percent said cuts in state and local spending for police and firefighters would have a negative impact and a similar number felt the same about cuts in spending on education, road, bridges and public transportation.
The survey also found a gender gap, with women's optimism dropping dramatically since January. Nearly half of women classified themselves as working class or poor, compared to 38 percent of men.
But mothers outscored fathers by about two-to-one on who was better with family better or getting a bargain.