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Poll: Public Pessimism On Economy Is Increasing

By TOM RAUM and JENNIFER AGIESTA

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ For the third year in a row, the nation's economic recovery has hit a springtime soft spot. Reflecting that weakness, only 1 in 4 Americans now expects his or her own financial situation to improve over the next year, a new Associated Press-GfK poll shows.

The sour mood is undermining support for President Barack Obama's economic stewardship and for government in general.

The poll shows that just 46 percent of Americans approve of Obama's handling of the economy while 52 percent disapprove. That's a negative turn from an even split last September â¿¿ ahead of Obama's November re-election victory â¿¿ when 49 percent approved and 48 percent disapproved.

Just 7 percent of Americans said they trust the government in Washington to do what is right "just about always," the AP-GfK poll found. Fourteen percent trust it "most" of the time and two-thirds trust the federal government just "some of the time"; 11 percent say they never do.

The downbeat public attitudes registered in the survey coincide with several dour economic reports showing recent slowdowns in gains in hiring, consumer retail spending, manufacturing activity and economic growth. Automatic government spending cuts, which are starting to kick in, also may be contributing to the current sluggishness and increased wariness on the part of both shoppers and employers.

Overall, 25 percent of those in the poll describe the nation's economy as good, 59 percent as poor â¿¿ similar to a January AP-GfK poll.

Respondents split on whether this was a "good time" to make major purchases such as furniture and electronic devices, with 31 percent agreeing it was, 38 percent calling it a "bad time" and 25 percent remaining neutral.

The economy's recovery from the severe 2007-2009 recession has been slow and uneven. Even so, most economic forecasts see continued economic growth ahead, even if it is sluggish and accompanied by only slowly improving levels of joblessness. Another recession in the near future is not being forecast.

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