U.S. view of economy is getting worse - poll

Three out of four Americans believe the economy is in bad shape, CNN/Opinion Research Poll shows.

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By Aaron Smith, CNNMoney.com staff writer

Are you better off than you were seven years ago during the last economic downturn?
  • Yes
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  • About the same

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Americans' opinions on the health of the economy have worsened significantly over the last year, according to the results of a CNN poll released Monday.

Seventy-five percent of participants in a national CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll believe the U.S. economy is in bad shape, compared to just 43% of respondents who shared that view a year ago.

In a poll conducted Aug. 23-24, 43% of those surveyed rated the current economic conditions as "very poor," while 32% rated it as "somewhat poor." Only 21% rated the economy as "somewhat good" and a mere 4% said it was "very good."

The findings are based on 497 interviews and have a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Around this time last year, Americans had a significantly less dire view of the economy. A poll taken Aug. 6-8, 2007 found that 17% rated economic conditions as "very poor," while 26% rated it "somewhat poor." Furthermore, 45% rated the economy as "somewhat good," while 11% said it was "very good."

The worsening economy has become a central issue for voters as they size up the presidential candidates. The economy has been hammered in the last year by the mortgage meltdown, deepening credit crisis, soaring inflation and ongoing job losses.

"I'd be shocked if they felt any differently," David Wyss, chief economist for Standard & Poor's, said when asked about the change in perceptions of the economy.

Wyss said that sky-high gas prices are the biggest factor in bringing down the economy for the average consumer. Retail gas prices have ticked lower in the last month to $3.681 a gallon average nationwide, according to motorist group AAA. But that's still nearly 34% higher than a year ago.

Wyss said he expects the economy to get worse before it gets better, particularly when it comes to jobs. So far this year, the economy has lost 463,000 jobs, according to the Labor Department.

"I don't even think we've seen the worse of it," said Wyss, who doesn't see any evidence of an imminent upturn. "I think we'll lose another half million [jobs], and possibly another million."

Lakshman Achuthan, managing director for the Economic Cycle Research Institute, said inflation and the shrinking job market have had the biggest impact on how Americans view the economy.

"[The] bad news is that there is no end to recession in sight," said Achuthan, in an email to CNNMoney.com. "[The] silver-lining is that recession kills inflation so that part of the pain should ease a bit."  To top of page

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