Tuesday, April 21, 2009

U.S. outlook starts to improve: Gallup poll

The mood among Americans might finally be turning sunnier after months of economic worries, according to a series of polls conducted by the Gallup organization this week.

For the first time in at least eight months, U.S. adults are less worried about money, believe the economy has halted its deterioration and are more optimistic about their own personal circumstances, Gallup polls suggested.

Those findings were contained in a group of continuing surveys Gallup conducted this week on the sentiment of American men and women.

The latest batch of three-day polls suggested Americans are starting to regain their optimism concerning the economy.

For instance, though 50 per cent of respondents said U.S. economic conditions were poor, that was actually the lowest level for this indicator since last September, a month after the global credit crisis hit economies.

In the same vein, 57 per cent of those surveyed said the economy was getting worse. But that number was, by far, the lowest within the last 16 months.

Back in February 2008, almost three-quarters of Americans thought the U.S. financial juggernaut had lost a wheel.

Still down, but looking better

On the more positive side, Gallup reported that 35 per cent of consumers held a positive outlook, more than twice the level of January 2008, when that figure was only 15 per cent.

Better still, nearly 70 per cent of U.S. adults said they were not worried about money, versus 32 per cent of those who had said earlier they had concerns about their own pocketbook.

That showing was Gallup's best since the three days of July 19-21 and a substantial improvement over the first week of October, when 48 per cent of Americans said they were really worried about cash.

In its polls, Gallup asks a series of question regarding the economy and similar topics and calculates the results based upon an average of three days of responses, known as a rolling average. The company conducts 1,000 interviews each night and posts new numbers each day.

In another poll, Gallup set its consumer sentiment index at minus 75, again a low number, but an improvement over past months.

"Although still mired in deeply negative territory, the index has levelled off at the highest point seen in over a year," Gallup said.

In Canada, where the economy is not deteriorating as quickly as in the United States, sentiment is also turning more positive.

The Conference Board of Canada said its March consumer outlook measure reached 71.5, up 2.7 points versus February.

"Obviously, consumer confidence is important. There are signs that there is a bottom forming on a few fronts," said Pedro Antunes, the Conference Board's director of national and provincial forecast, in an interview with CBC News.