By Charles Babington, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — The bank account is thin, but the future looks pretty good.
That, oddly enough, is the view of many Americans who predict 2010 will be a better year than this one, even if they fear that the U.S. economy and their own financial circumstances won't improve.
A whopping 82% are optimistic about what the new year will bring for their families, according to the latest AP-GfK poll. That sunny outlook seems at odds with other findings.
Nearly two-thirds think their family finances will worsen or stay about the same next year. And fewer than half think the nation's economy will improve in 2010, even though Americans rated 2009 as a huge downer.
Mari Flanigan of South Milwaukee, Wis., is one of those who feel fairly optimistic that things will go better at a personal level in 2010 even though her financial situation might grow worse.
Flanigan, 36, is unemployed after selling a family business that faced increasing competition.
"Financially, I'm scared," she said.
Rather than seek new work, however, she is thinking of returning to school to become a social worker. "I'd rather make less money and do something I love," Flanigan said, noting that happiness and optimism are not strictly tied to finances.
The poll found that nearly three-fourths of Americans think 2009 was a bad year for the country, which was rocked by job losses, home foreclosures and economic sickness. Forty-two percent rated it "very bad."
That's clearly worse than in 2006, the last time a similar poll was taken. The survey that year found that 58% of Americans felt the nation had suffered a bad year, and 39% considered it a good year.
Fewer than half as many people, 16%, said their family had a "very good year" in 2009 as said that in 2006.