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Survey: Slow recovery creating pessimism

/ Source: The Associated Press

The stock market's moving up and some economists are declaring an end to the recession. So, why are people still so pessimistic?

A new national survey says the reality has sunk in that true financial recovery for most people won't come soon. As a result, consumers aren't very interested in spending money, they've concluded retirement is even further away and they're increasingly skeptical that Social Security will be there when they need it.

The survey by Sun Life Financial Inc. shows 77 percent of adults between 18 and 66 say they're cutting spending, that's a 10 percent increase from a similar survey completed earlier this year.

Of those cutting spending, nearly eight in ten are spending less on entertainment and eating out, and more than half have put off a home improvement project or buying a car.

What's more, the bad news for retailers is that 60 percent said they will spend less on holiday shopping.

"Americans are looking at all different aspects of their lives and trying to figure out how they can secure a financial future given the economic factors that they're living with," says Julie DiCarlo, a Sun Life Financial spokeswoman.

The survey results are supported by report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis released on Friday that showed the personal savings rate in the second quarter increased to 4.9 percent, up from 3.7 percent in the first quarter.

The recession and stock market collapse of the past year, and its impact on retirement savings has translated into a strikingly more pessimistic mindset.

More than half of those surveyed — 55 percent — said they will still be working at age 67, that's up from 52 percent a year ago. In the recent survey 28 percent said they expect to work full-time past age 67, up from 19 percent a year ago.

And Americans don't have much confidence that the government's going to be there to help. Some 58 percent said they don't believe Social Security will be available when they retire, up from 47 percent in last year's survey.

How much longer do people think they'll have to work? A year ago barely half said they'd have to work at least a year past 67. That rose to 65 percent this year. And more people now predict they'll have to work at least five more years — until at least age 72. With 27 percent saying that now, compared with 24 percent a year ago.

The random telephone survey of 1,451 people between the ages of 18 and 66 was conducted between Aug. 14 and Sept. 14. It has a statistical margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percent.