Most Americans still expect the economy to worsen over the next year as worries over the cost of food and gasoline weigh on personal spending, according the latest survey from Citibank.
The quarterly survey showed 72% of consumers believe the economy still has a way to go to reach bottom, while 44% said they feel less financially secure now than they did in 2008. Only 41% of respondents believed that local business conditions would improve over the next 12 months, down from 63% at the start of 2011.
The numbers represent a more pessimistic view of the economy than seen earlier this year. Persistently high unemployment and some weaker-than-expected growth data have renewed fears that a so-called double-dip recession could hit the U.S.
Still, the poll by Hart Research Associates gauged respondents' mood at an especially volatile time, when a downgrade of U.S. debt by the ratings company Standard & Poor's punctuated weeks of political drama over the federal budget.
"It will be interesting to see if America's mood brightens in the next quarter," pollster Peter D. Hart said.
Respondents' dour expectations for the overall economy also contrasted with an upbeat view of their own prospects, with 60% calling themselves somewhat or very optimistic about their personal economic situation.
The percentage of respondents worried about the cost of necessities like food and gasoline climbed to 41%, up 18 percentage points from last September. Such concerns prompted 72% of respondents to use coupons from the mail, newspapers or magazines, while 62% said they are cutting back on coffee and higher-priced food in favor of less expensive options.