December 15, 2010 / 10:42 PM / in 7 years

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.

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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