Forty-two percent of Americans feel less secure about their financial situations compared with a year ago, while 36% feel the same, The Harris Poll finds; in last year's survey, 56% reported feeling less secure

NEW YORK , December 27, 2010 (press release) – Holiday shopping is over and the New Year's Eve plans are made. It's also the time of year when people look back and look forward and, this year many are probably thinking more of the economic year that was and the one that will be. President Obama is also probably thinking ahead to the economic future and his handling of the economy. At the end of his second year in office, just three in ten Americans (30%) give him positive ratings on the job he is doing on the economy while seven in ten (70%) give him negative ratings.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,331 adults surveyed online between December 6 and 13, 2010 by Harris Interactive.

When asked to compare their financial situation to last year, two in five Americans (42%) feel less secure now while one-third (36%) feel just as secure and one in five (19%) say they now feel more secure. While this reflects the end of a troubling financial year, it also shows an improvement from what people felt last year at this time. One year ago, over half of Americans (56%) said they felt less secure about their financial situation when compared to the previous year.

Looking ahead, one-quarter of Americans (26%) say they expect the economy to get worse in the coming year while three in ten (29%) expect it to get better and 45% say it will stay the same. Last month, over one-third (34%) said they thought the economy would be getting better, 41% said it would stay the same and 25% believed it would get worse.

The job market

In looking at the job market, just over one in three Americans (13%) rate the job market in their region of the country as good while three in five (63%) rate it as bad and one-quarter (24%) say it is neither good nor bad. Looking ahead, one-quarter of U.S. adults (25%) say they expect the job market to be better over the next six months, one in five (22%) say it will be worse and over half (54%) believe it will remain the same.

2011 Financial Expectations

Looking to what people may be doing with regard to their finances in the coming year, half of Americans (49%) say they will cut back on their household spending. Two in five say they will pay down their level of debt (41%) and save more in the year ahead (40%). One in five U.S. adults say they will get rid of one or more credit cards (22%) and save more for retirement (22%) while 13% say they will undertake home improvements that increase the value of their home. Less than one in ten will invest in less risky investments (8%), refinance their mortgage (6%) or take out a home equity line of credit (2%). And, one in five Americans (18%) say they do not expect to do anything differently financially in 2011.

So What?

At the beginning of the year everyone always has the best intentions. Resolutions are made typically about health, diet and/or finances. But, as everyone knows, resolutions are also broken and if they last until the end of January, that's a great thing. As the year goes on, it will be interesting to see if people are saving more, paying down their debt or cutting back on household spending.

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between December 6 to 13, 2010 among 2,331 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

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