Poll: 60% see recession ahead

Most say a recession in the next year is somewhat or very likely; more than a third view their own finances as 'shaky,' newspaper reports.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Most Americans are expecting a recession in the next year and a large fraction describe their own finances as shaky, according to a recent survey.

The poll of 1,373 adults conducted for the Los Angeles Times and financial news wire Bloomberg found that 60 percent of those surveyed said recession was somewhat or very likely within the next year, according to the Times report.

In addition, 35 percent said their personal finances were "shaky," up from 30 percent who gave that answer on an earlier survey in March, and 28 percent in January. It is the second-highest reading for those with that view of their own finances since the survey began in the early 1990's.

The view of the overall economy is somewhat more pessimistic than the view of most economists, including Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who has testified he believes a recession is unlikely.

Many current economic readings are relatively strong. The unemployment rate fell to 4.4 percent in March, one of the lowest readings since 2001, and wage growth is outpacing price increases.

But with consumer spending responsible for more than two-thirds of the nation's economic activity, consumer worries about the risk of a recession and their own personal finances can become their own drag on the economy.

The Times reported that the last time its survey asked about a recession risk, in December 2000, 64 percent of respondents said a downturn was likely. Three months later the recession began.

Many economists who are worried about a recession have said that consumer's worries about the declining value of their homes could be a factor that forces them to cut back on spending and tip the overall economy into recession.

Problems in the subprime mortgage sector is seen limiting many potential buyers' access to financing or the ability of some homeowners to refinance to free up home equity, which has helped to support spending in recent years.

Many home price readings from the National Association of Realtors and the Census Bureau are showing a year-over-year decline in home prices, due greatly to a glut of homes for sale on the market.

But the survey found most Americans confident about the value of their own home, despite the reports of soft prices and problems in the mortgage market.

The Times reports that a third of those polled predicted home values in their neighborhood would increase in the next six months, about twice as many who expect a price decline. The rest said values would hold steady.

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