Looking Good, But For How Long?

Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, the Commerce Department and legions of economists have their own points of view on how well the economy is doing, but all would agree that the amateur opinions of ordinary Americans are a factor in the direction of the economy.

According to a CBS News poll, 72 percent of Americans now rate the national economy as good, down from 89 percent in October and 88 percent one year ago.

But a majority also say the economy is either in a recession, or very near to being in a recession, and over two thirds said a recession in the next year is "likely."

Of those polled, 35 percent said we're in a recession now, 29 percent said we're near one, and 28 percent said we're not near recession.

CBSNEWS - New York Times Polls
Is the economy…

Getting worse



Staying the same



Getting better




Worries about the possibility of being laid off affect about half of those polled, with 24 percent saying they are "very concerned" that someone in their family might get laid off in the next few years, and 25 percent saying they are "somewhat concerned."

Concern that layoffs might be in the works are highest among poll participants who earn $30,000 or less.

For some, layoffs are more than a worry: 21 percent said that at some point in the past twelve months, an adulin their household has been out of work and actively looking for a job.

CBSNEWS - New York Times Polls
Is this a good time to buy a house?

Good time



Better to wait




Sagging consumer confidence has been slow to put a dent in the way people spend their money, with 61 percent saying they haven't made any changes in their spending as a result of the economy, and 38 percent saying they have.

The survey also shows that attitudes about the condition of the stock market are relatively unchanged from last month, but a little more negative compared to September 1999.

One in ten rated the stock market now as "excellent" or "very good," half called it "fairly good" and almost a quarter called it "fairly bad" or "very bad."

As for the future, 44 percent said they expect the market to go up in the next year, and 35 percent said they think it will go down. That compares to 52 percent who were hopeful and 30 percent who were pessimistic a month ago.

The poll was conducted by telephone, from February 10 through February 12, among 1,124 adults nationwide. Any error due to sampling is estimated at plus or minus three percentage points.

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