Americans More Optimistic on Economy Than Their Own Finances, Survey Says

More Americans expect the U.S. economy to improve rather than decline in the next six months, according to a survey by a financial planning group.

Forty-four percent of respondents said the economy will get better compared with 28 percent who believe it will get worse, said the survey, which was released today by the Washington- based Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc., an organization that grants certification to financial advisers.

“Americans are generally hopeful, and much of the economic news leads us to conclude that we are out of the recession and a double dip is unlikely,” said Robert Glovsky, chair of the CFP Board and director of Boston University’s program for financial planners. “With that said, most Americans have not planned well for their futures.”

The U.S. is struggling to recover from the worst recession since the 1930s, with 83,000 private jobs added in June. Unemployment was 9.5 percent last month, compared with 9.7 percent in May and confidence among U.S. consumers rose in June to the highest level in more than two years, another survey showed. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment increased to 75.5, the highest since January 2008, from 73.6 in May.

The CFP Board survey was conducted by telephone in July among 1,002 adults age 18 and over by Penn Schoen Berland, a market research and consulting firm based in Washington. The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percent.

Less Optimistic

Americans remain less optimistic about their own finances, the CFP Board survey said. About 37 percent said they expect their finances to improve in the next six months and are more worried about their finances today than they were two years ago, with 65 percent saying they have financial concerns that are “much” or “somewhat” greater than they were at the beginning of the recession.

The top three financial issues for respondents were retirement goals and planning, education funding and savings targets, the survey said.

Eighty percent said they think that Congress and regulators haven’t done enough to deal with the financial market problems and their impact on investors. The U.S. Senate is expected to give final approval this week to legislation overhauling the financial-services industry.

The bill creates a consumer bureau at the Federal Reserve, a council of regulators to monitor firms for systemic risk to the economy and a mechanism for liquidating large financial companies whose collapse would threaten the economy. The House of Representatives approved the bill on June 30.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alexis Leondis in New York aleondis@bloomberg.net.

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