Poll finds broad pessimism over U.S. economy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More than three in four Americans think the United States is in a recession according to a USA Today/Gallup Poll released on Tuesday.

Not since September 1992, two months before President George H.W. Bush lost his re-election bid, have so many Americans said the economy was in such bad shape, USA Today reported.

Seventy-six percent of to those polled said the economy is in recession, compared to 22 percent who said it is not, USA Today said.

Asked if the United States could slip into a depression lasting several years, 59 percent said it was likely and 79 percent said they were worried about it, the newspaper reported.

The poll was completed on Sunday, the same day the U.S. Federal Reserve offered to extend direct lending to security firms for the first since the Great Depression and backed the JP Morgan Chase buyout of investment bank Bear Stearns.

The poll results reflect a slide in confidence that economists say could make the U.S. economy worse, the article said.

Brian Bethune of economic forecaster Global Insight said the pessimism “creates more problems.”

“When people experience higher gasoline prices, higher heating costs, fewer employment opportunities, housing prices going down, the common sense conclusion is things aren’t very good,” Bethune told the newspaper.

The poll of 1,025 adults has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Reporting by JoAnne Allen; Editing by Doina Chiacu