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Most Americans Think Economy Yet to Hit Bottom

Thursday, 22 Jul 2010 | 8:09 AM ET

Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe that the economy has yet to hit bottom, meaning a double-dip recession is expected, a nationwide survey from Citigroup showed Thursday.

Recession-themed newsprint cuttings
Recession-themed newsprint cuttings

The quarterly report, conducted by Hart Research Associates, revealed that 62 percent of people asked were still not counting on a rebound, which is 3-point decline from the March reading and almost as bad as last September's result of 63 percent.

The employment picture painted by the data was bleak too with 85 percent of respondents reporting that job opportunities were only fair or poor. Nearly half of those asked said that the job market was poor.

"Clearly, the mood of Americans has been heavily influenced by the unemployment numbers here at home and the news of economic woes in Europe," Jonathan Clements, director of financial education at Citi Personal Wealth Management, said in a statement.

The survey also showed that Americans' expectations for when the economy will stabilize for their households have been pushed further into the future. Nearly two thirds think that their households will not see a stable financial situation for at least two or three years, it said.

On the positive side, Americans' views on current economic conditions and the outlook for their own personal financial situations are improving or holding steady, the survey said.

Twenty-four percent said that the local economy where they live is good or excellent, which is up from 19 percent in March, the report said.

"If you dig deeper, consumers are actually feeling a bit better about their own finances and the local economic outlook," Clements said.

"The big question is, could the gloomy news become a self-fulfilling prophesy, prompting consumers to restrain their spending, thus hurting the economic recovery?" he added.

Meanwhile, as many as 25 percent of people surveyed said that one form of debt or other poised a major challenge or is becoming unmanageable, the survey showed.

"It is startling to see more than a fifth of high-income earners express concerns about their debt," Clements said. "This may speak to their overconfidence during the boom years, as they took on first and second mortgages to buy real estate and pay other expenses."

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