The survey also finds a gathering sense that the man in charge is not doing enough to alleviate Americans' worries, CBS News Correspondent Dean Reynolds reports.
In Batavia, Ill., social worker Cherie Jones Das has a short wish list for the president.
"I'd like to see Obama do more, yeah. I really would," said Das. "I'd like to see him do more to promote jobs."
Indeed, in the poll, the economy is seen as the biggest problem by far facing the country, specifically the lack of jobs.
"A job, period," said Californian Walter Powell. "A job, you know, most people, they can't get jobs."
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Fifty-two percent say the president has spent too little time addressing the issue, and 63 percent say his economic programs have had no effect on them personally.
That's politically ominous for Mr. Obama and probably frustrating, given that a number of independent economic research organizations say at least 2 million jobs were created or saved by the stimulus package
Yet 75 percent of the country believes the effects of the recession will last two more years or longer.
"I think it's gonna inch slowly; it will get better but it's going to inch very slowly," said Das. "It may not happen in time to really save Obama."
Fifty-three percent of Americans say the president's approach to the nation's problems is not tough enough, and they're evenly divided - 48 percent to 48 percent - on whether he shares their priorities. One New Jersey Republican clearly believes he does not.
"I think if he spent as much time on the job crisis and on the American public as he did worrying about the banking industry maybe we would have been a little better off right now," said Lorraine, who refused to provide her last name.
The administration's opposition to the tough new Arizona immigration law goes against the national grain too with 57 percent believing the law has it about right in dealing with illegal immigration.
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"The oddest truth, I am Hispanic, but I'm American," said Laura Arroyas. "I think they come here to take our jobs."
But some public remedies for the ailing economy were conflicting.
A majority - 53 percent to 37 percent - favors cutting taxes over government spending as the way to kick start the economy, yet 52 percent believe Congress should nonetheless spend more to extend jobless benefits.
Yet despite the glum mood, CBS News also found that Americans retain their long-term optimism about the future.
"Normally when there's something down, it always comes back up," said Powell. "That's what normally happens. It can't be night forever."
And consider this: back in 1988 when CBS News asked if America's best days were ahead of it, 61 percent said yes. Today, when asked the same question, 59 percent said yes, virtually the same.