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Unemployment is down, GDP is up, and the White House is betting that Americans will finally start feeling the effects of the economic recovery. But in Colorado, it's just not enough yet, said participants in a focus group conducted on behalf of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.
"The simple fact is, regardless of what the numbers say, there's a lot of hurting people out there," said Rick Lamutt, a 40 year-old independent. "You've seen on the news, 'Everything's fine, the economy's great, there's jobs everywhere!' Well, if you want to make $9 an hour, you can go get a job, but if you want to make a wage that can support your family, good luck."
Charlie Loan, a 52 year-old independent who leans Republican, agreed.
"The media tells us that unemployment is down considerably, but that's not the feeling that I get from talking to my friends and family across the country," he said.
The twelve participants in the focus group, which was moderated by pollster Peter Hart, described the state of the country as "cloudy" and "gloomy."
A bright spot for many participants, though, was sinking gas prices. Nine of the 12 participants said that the low price of fuel has made an impact on them.
"It's awesome," said Karstyn Butler, a 39 year-old Democratic homemaker who says she's saving a substantial chunk when she fills up her truck.
"It's good to have the extra money in your pocket," said Cesar Rodriguez, a 46 year-old Democrat who emigrated from Mexico.
But others worried that the cash boost won't last.
"It's nice to have the extra money," said Susan Brink, a 56 year-old independent. "But I do kind of feel like they give us a little bit to make us happy, and then they take it away."
President Barack Obama received mediocre ratings from the group, comprised of seven independents, three Democrats and two Republicans.
Four participants said he deserved a B-grade for his performance, while four offered a C and four offered a D.
"I really hoped at this point, especially because he's been elected twice now, that the economy would be in much better shape than it is now," said Brink, who voted for Obama in 2012.
"I know he inherited a lot, but it's been six years," she said.