NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - More Americans believe they are financially worse off now than they did a year ago, yet they remain hopeful about their future prospects, a new Gallup poll released Friday showed.
The poll, conducted amid a slew of corporate accounting scandals, a slack economy and a tight job market, shows about 45 percent of Americans believe they are financially worse off now than they were a year ago, while 32 say their financial situation is better than a year ago.
That's the lowest sentiment since February, 1992, when the country was battling a recession.
However, a majority of Americans, 67 percent, expect that they will be better off financially a year from now, in spite of the recent spate of bad news on Wall Street.
Additionally, the poll shows that enthusiasm for investing in the stock market has waned in the last month, with most saying they think now is not a good time to invest.
That's a marked change from 1999 and 2000 when the stock market was still booming and the majority of Americans thought investing was a good idea, according to Gallup. As the market declined in 2001 and 2002, people became more ambivalent until this month, when the mood has turned decisively pessimistic, the poll showed.
Still, just 18 percent of Americans said the recent decline represents a "crisis," while half consider it a major problem. About 25 percent said the market decline is at worst a minor problem.
In spite of Wall Street's recent declines, most Americans, about 52 percent, believe the bottom has not yet been reached, but will have been within the next six months. About 17 percent believe the market has already hit bottom.
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Even with all the jitters over the stock market, the overall public mood remains stable. About 49 percent of Americans are satisfied with the way things are going in the country while 47 percent are dissatisfied.
The poll, conducted July 22-24, is based on telephone interviews with a random national sample of 1,005 adults, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.