Four of five Americans cut spending even as 69% say personal situation good

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Chart - Household Finances

CBS News Poll analysis by the CBS News Polling Unit: Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus and Anthony Salvanto.

More than four out of five Americans have made changes to their spending habits in the past year as the economy has continued to flounder, the latest CBS News/New York Times poll showed, even though almost seven of 10 said they would characterize their own financial situation as good.

About 83 percent of Americans in the poll released Wednesday said they have made cutbacks in their day-to-day spending, including about 39 percent who have said they have cut some items they consider to be "necessities." Another 44 percent cut back on "luxury" items.

The telephone poll was conducted Oct 19-25 among 1,704 adults, including 445 who were out of work and looking for a job. The margin of error among the subset of unemployed is plus or minus five percentage points.

At the same time, about 69 percent of all Americans said they consider their own household's financial situation to be good. About 59 percent said it was "fairly good," while 10 percent said it was "very good." About 23 percent said their situation was "fairly bad" and 7 percent said it was "very bad."

Not surprisingly, unemployed Americans had a dimmer view of their own situation. About 54 percent considered their situation "bad," including 22 percent who said it was "very bad" and 32 percent who said it was "fairly bad." Just two percent said it was "very good," and 43 percent said it was "fairly good."

More than nine of 10 unemployed Americans have made some cutbacks to their spending in the past year. About 64 percent said they have made cuts to "necessities" and another 29 percent said they have just cut out "luxuries."

About 17 percent of all Americans and 6 percent of those out of work said they have not made any changes to their spending habits.

This poll was conducted by telephone from October 19-24, 2011 among 1,650 adults nationwide. 1,475 interviews were conducted with registered voters and 455 with voters who said they plan to vote in a Republican primary. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus two percentage points. The margin of error for the sample of registered voters could be plus or minus three points and four points for the sample of Republican primary voters. The error for subgroups may be higher. An oversample was conducted for this survey which will be analyzed in a future poll release. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

  • Corbett Daly On Twitter» Deputy Politics Editor Corbett B. Daly is based in Washington. He has worked at Reuters, Thomson Financial News and CBS MarketWatch.