Poll analysis by Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Anthony Salvanto, and Fred Backus
Positive evaluations of the economy are up from April and are the highest they've been in years. While a majority (60 percent) still says the economy is bad, 39 percent now say it is good - the highest it has been since late 2007.
Optimism about the direction of the economy is up just slightly from last month. Now, 34 percent say the economy is improving - up slightly from 31 percent in April, and about where it was in March.
Americans' views of the job market in their area have become just a bit more positive as well. Forty-six percent now say it is good (up from 42 percent in March), although slightly more, 51 percent, say it is bad.
Thirty-three percent think the job market in their area will get better over the next year, similar to views in March.
But job insecurity persists. More than six in ten Americans say they are very or somewhat concerned that they or someone in their household might be out of work and looking for a job in the next year. Those figures have changed little.
The economy and jobs remain the most important problem facing the country (34 percent), outdistancing other issues such as the budget deficit (6 percent) and health care (5 percent) by a large margin.
Theand the IRS controversy appear to have had little impact on President Obama's overall job approval rating in this poll.
The president's job approval rating has hovered below 50 percent for the past few months, down from 52 percent in February. Now, 47 percent approve of the job he is doing, and 43 percent disapprove - about the same as April and March.
With some improvement in views of the economy, there has also been a small uptick in approval of Mr. Obama's handling of it. Forty-four percent now approve of his handling of the economy, up from 41 percent last month. The president continues to receive his highest marks on handling terrorism, but approval of his handling of immigration is at just 39 percent.
Frustration with Government?
The poll also suggests some frustration with government priorities - overall congressional approval remains mired in the teens, and just one in five Americans say they trust the government in Washington to do what is right just about always or most of the time.
Meanwhile, three in four Americans (75 percent) say that Republicans in Congress are spending too much time on other issues rather than the ones they care about most, and 57 percent say the same about President Obama. However, the public is twice as likely to say the President rather than Republicans in Congress are focused on the issues they care about most.
One particular issue where the American public seems at odds with Republicans in Congress is gun legislation, or the lack of it. Although a bill to expand background checks for gun purchases was recently defeated in the Senate, most Americans are still in support of such legislation. Seven in 10 (69 percent) think that Congress should pass a bill that expands background checks for gun purchases if it comes up for another vote. Majorities of Republicans (58 percent), Democrats (86 percent), and independents (63 percent) all agree.
Most Americans who live in households with at least one firearm agree that background checks should be expanded (61 percent), though in smaller numbers than Americans who don't have guns in their households (80 percent).
But Americans are not particularly encouraged that such legislation will be enacted this year. Less than half think that new gun legislation this year is even somewhat likely, and just 14% think it is very likely. Most - 56 percent - think it is not very or not at all likely.
In general, 51 percent of Americans think that laws covering the sale of guns should be stricter, while 36 percent think they should be kept as they are, and 11 percent think they should be less strict. Support for stricter gun control laws shot up to 57 percent in December after the Newtown shootings.
Direction of the Country
About one in three Americans (35 percent) think the country is headed in the right direction, but nearly six in ten (59 percent) think it is on the wrong track. Those figures have changed little in the past few months.
This poll was conducted by telephone from May 31-June 4, 2013 among 1,022 adults nationwide. Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News/The New York Times by Social Science Research Solutions of Media, PA. 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 three percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.