WASHINGTON — Continued high unemployment, the recent debt-ceiling circus and the stock-market swoon have left Americans more pessimistic about the economy than at any other time this year, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll.
Last week, 68 percent of adults surveyed about the economy said they felt the worst was yet to come. That's the highest percentage since the question was first asked last September. It's also a 15 percentage-point spike from the number who felt that way in July.
That jump in pessimism about the economy extends to personal family finances. Only 25 percent of adults expect their finances to improve in the coming year, down from 28 percent in July. And 26 percent expect their own economic situations to worsen in the coming year, up from 20 percent in July.
The number of people who expect their personal finances to stay the same continues to hover around 50 percent of respondents.
The pessimism is fueling a continued decline in consumer confidence in the wake of the nation's credit downgrade and the largest weeklong stock market free-fall since 2008. After climbing every month for nearly two years, consumer spending declined in June, the Commerce Department reported last week. And the nation's economic recovery probably will take longer than previously projected, the Federal Reserve reported this week.
The McClatchy-Marist poll found that most Americans — 59 percent — still think that the economic conditions were something President Barack Obama inherited. But even those numbers slipped from 63 percent in April and 61 percent in June. Conversely, those who blame Obama's policies for the conditions increased from 25 percent in January to 33 percent in August, the survey found.
Not surprisingly, a majority of Republicans and tea party supporters blame Obama, while most Democrats and independent voters say the president inherited the sour economy.
The telephone survey of 1,000 U.S. adults was conducted Aug. 2-4. Phone numbers were selected from throughout the nation, and each region was represented in proportion to its population. Random cell phone respondents were included in the survey to increase coverage.
The survey's results are statistically significant within 3 percentage points. The poll includes 807 registered voters. Results for these respondents are statistically significant within 3.5 percentage points. The margin of error increases when both groups of respondents are cross-tabulated.
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