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Poll: Jobless Concerns Highest In 12 Years

Thirty-five percent of Americans are now "very concerned" that they or someone else in their household will be out of work and looking for a job within the next twelve months, a new CBS News/New York Times poll shows.

That percentage represents a 12 point increase since last week. Concerns about unemployment are now higher than at any point since March 1996.

Just 29 percent of Americans say they have enough income to save and buy extras, a drop of 8 points from last month. Roughly half say they have just enough income to pay the bills, while 20 percent say they do not have enough to pay their bills.

Roughly one in two Americans say they feel somewhat secure about their financial future, and one in five say they feel very secure. But nearly one in three say they feel not very or not at all secure.

More than half say they U.S. economy is in "very bad" shape, and an additional 35 percent say it is fairly bad shape. Only 13 percent of Americans say the economy is even somewhat good.

There are signs of increased optimism, however. While 57 percent believe the economy is getting worse, that's down 10 points from last week and 19 points from the beginning of the month. 11 percent now believe the economy is improving, up 6 points from last week.

Americans continue to disapprove of the $700 billion bailout bill recently passed by Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush.

Fifty-three percent now disapprove of the bill, about the same percentage that disapproved when it was first proposed. Disapproval cuts across party identification, political ideology, age, income, and level of education.

Thirty-two percent approve of the bill.

Americans also disapprove of the recent government takeover of some of the country's largest banks in an effort to encourage lending, though by a smaller margin. Forty-eight percent disapprove of the partial government takeover, while 39 percent approve.

Still, many Americans believe the government's efforts will help in dealing with the recent economic crisis. Forty-two percent say recent government actions will make the crisis better, while 17 percent say they will make things worse. Thirty-one percent expect government efforts to have no impact.

Roughly sixty percent have at least some confidence that the government can improve the economy. Forty percent have little to no confidence in the government to do so.

Eighty-five percent of Americans say the country is on the wrong track, four points below the all time high of 89 percent reached last week. Only about one in ten thinks the country is headed in the right direction.

Congressional job approval remains extremely low - 17 percent - though it is up slightly from last week.

Job approval for President Bush has not improved. Just 22 percent of Americans approve of the way he is handling his job, matching the all-time low he first reached in September.

Mr. Bush's approval rating equals the lowest ever achieved by a sitting president, and is matched only by President Truman in 1952. His 72 percent disapproval rating is a new high that has never been equaled.

This poll was conducted among a random sample of 1,152 adults nationwide, including 1,046 registered voters, interviewed by telephone October 19-22, 2008. Phone numbers were dialed from RDD samples of both standard land-lines and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample and the sample of registered voters could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher.
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