December 15, 2010 / 10:42 PM / 8 years ago

Americans not so optimistic about 2011, poll says

WASHINGTON (Reuters Life!) - Americans are ringing out 2010 on a worried note, feeling grim about the job market, the cost of living and their retirement savings, according to a poll released on Wednesday.

Beth Stiner holds her appraisal summary for her rental home as her husband Aaron Stiner works on his computer at their rented home in Phoenix, Arizona December 11, 2010. The Stiner's were planning on buying their rental home, but they were unable to make the purchase based on the two different appraisals making the cost of the home too low for a lender to agree on a loan. A second home in Chandler, Arizona that the Stiner's own was appraised three times making it impossible for them to sell in the housing market. Picture taken December 11, 2010. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

Three-quarters of those surveyed are dissatisfied with national conditions, and nearly half fear the economy will take a long time to recover, according to the poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

Nearly nine in ten describe U.S. economic conditions as poor or fair, it said. However, the number of people calling conditions fair, rather than poor, has risen slightly since October.

Looking ahead, 55 percent think 2011 will be better than this year, and 31 percent say the coming year will be worse.

That’s more pessimistic than a year ago, when 67 percent thought 2010 would be better than 2009, it said.

“There was a good deal more optimism last year than this year,” said Carroll Doherty, a Pew associate director. “Maybe they had a sense the economy was turning a corner, which didn’t turn out quite to be the case.

“This year maybe people are a little more tempered,” he said.

Almost half, or 48 percent, said it will be a long time before the economy recovers, while a third predicted it will recover soon, the survey said.

Four out of five people said jobs in their communities are hard to come by, and two out of three say jobs in their line of work are difficult to find, it said.

Almost half said they or someone in their household has been without a job and looking for work in the past year.

Nevertheless, two-thirds of working people said their employers are in excellent or good financial health.

While 57 percent said it is difficult to afford the things they really want, 40 percent said it is easy.

Two thirds said it is difficult to save for retirement.

Asked to assess their personal financial situation, 40 percent said fair, 30 percent said good, 23 percent said poor, 5 percent said excellent and 2 percent did not know.

About a quarter said they owe more than they can afford on credit cards and other non-mortgage debts.

The national poll was conducted December 1-5 by telephone among 1,500 adults. The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points, Pew said.

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