A national survey conducted by the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation for the week of December 16 shows that despite the inroads that the government has made to stabilize the economy, 80% of Americans still think that it is still a long way off from recovery.

Better than Last Year

This dismal outlook, as disheartening as it may sound, is one that more individuals now share compared to the previous year. Last December, a good 13 points less than the current 80% of poll respondents rated the economy poor. However, 20% of the people surveyed are now satisfied with how the economy is going – 12 points higher than last year’s figures.

And the prospects for the coming year seem to look even better for most people. “The good news is that Americans remain optimistic, with 58% forecasting that the economy will be in good shape a year from now,” said Keating Holland, CNN Polling Director.

Where the respondent is based is being pinpointed as a major factor in his response. “Optimism is highest in big cities and lowest in rural areas,” Holland added.

Unemployment a Major Concern

With the jobless rate presently at double-digit figures, unemployment remains to be the biggest concern of many Americans. The survey also shows that more black Americans are feeling the pinch of the lean job market more than whites. Of the African-Americans polled, 54% feel that whites have higher chances than blacks of getting the jobs they apply for.

Again, while this is a common sentiment, the number of respondents who feel this way has been slowly reduced over the years, according to Holland. “In the 1990s, two-thirds of blacks felt that way, and in the 1960s, three-quarters shared that view,” he said.

On Addressing the Growing Deficit

The average consumer may be worrying about joblessness and rock-bottom interest rates, but the government also has several urgent concerns other than unemployment that it needs to address such as the burgeoning deficit and financial policies.

Giving the right priority to these concerns is a delicate balancing act for the government but as far as those who answered the survey are concerned, the deficit should take a backseat. About 57% of the respondents are of the opinion that “economic recovery should be a higher priority for the Obama administration than deficit reduction,” while 75% say that “reducing unemployment should take precedence over the deficit.”

Financial institutions may resent any form of government oversight, but consumers are not exactly against it. Survey results show that 45% think that the stock market and financial institutions could do with a little more government regulation.

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