Americans deeply pessimistic about economy, poll finds

McClatchy NewspapersOctober 8, 2008 

WASHINGTON — A new measure of consumer confidence released Wednesday finds that Americans are pessimistic about their economic futures.

The RBC Cash Index, conducted by pollster Ipsos Public Affairs, found that 64 percent of people think it's likely that they or someone they know will lose their job in the next six months. Only 35 percent said that wasn't likely. That's a big indicator that consumers will be spending less in the weeks ahead.

"If the probability of having (your job) is decreased, you're not going to be spending a lot of money," said Clifford Young, a senior vice president for Ipsos. "People are going to cut their spending."

Some 69 percent said they're less comfortable about making a major purchase such as a home or car now than they were six months ago, and 67 percent said they feel the same discomfort about making other household purchases.

That casts an immediate shadow over the economy, since consumer purchases power about two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.

However, there was some light amid the gloom. Some 31 percent said they expect their local economy to be stronger in six months, while 27 percent said they expect it to be weaker. And 35 percent expected their personal financial situation to be stronger in six months, while only 14 percent said weaker.

The nationwide poll of 1,000 adults was conducted Oct. 2-6, and carried a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

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