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Poll shows economic optimism

People skittish, but expect better times in a year Citizens expect things to get better eventually

WASHINGTON – People are skittish about the economy’s immediate future. Ask how things will be in a year and you hear a different story – and a remarkable show of optimism despite economists’ widespread expectations that a serious recession is brewing.

Most expect the economy to generally be better and the stock market to be rising three months from now, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll released Thursday.

Majorities also doubt that unemployment will fall or home values will rise by then, and people are split over whether their personal finances will improve.

Extend the timeline to a year and the public’s mood about the economy grows cheerier. Most say they expect more jobs and higher real estate values. They also think their own financial situations will be better a year from now, the survey shows.

“A year from now, it may improve,” said Claudette Davis, 61, a retiree from Alpharetta, Ga. “And maybe the new president will have some input.”

Forty-four percent in the survey said they think the economy will improve if Democrat Barack Obama is elected, while 34 percent said it would get better if Republican John McCain wins.

By a 58 percent to 38 percent majority, people said this was a bad time to invest in stocks. However, by 53 percent to 43 percent, most said this is a good time to buy real estate.

About three quarters of active investors – people who changed their investment mix at least five times in the past year – said this is a good time to buy real estate and stocks.

Two-thirds of people earning at least $100,000 a year also said so. But fewer than half of those making less than $50,000 agreed.

The poll involved phone interviews with 1,101 randomly chosen adults. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points, larger for subgroups.



• 53 percent said the economy would be better in three months; 75 percent said it would improve in a year.

• Two-thirds expect even lower gas costs in three months. Fewer said they will still be declining in a year.

• Three in 10 expect the costs of everyday stuff to be lower in three months; that figure grows to 4 in 10 in a year.

• Black Americans were more optimistic than whites that home prices will rise in the short and long term and that the economy will improve in a year.

The Associated Press

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