WASHINGTON — With little relief in sight, people are getting more anxious about the slumping economy and how it affects them.
The share of people who believe the country is moving in the right direction has plunged in just a few weeks, from 28 percent in September to 15 percent in October, according to an Associated Press-Yahoo News poll of likely voters that was released Monday.
At the same time there is a drop in those surveyed who say they are happy about the way things are going in their own lives. Now 59 percent say they are personally happy, compared with 70 percent last month.
The magnitude of the financial meltdown and its impact on the overall economy is hitting people hard across the social and economic spectrum.
Strikingly, one-third are worried about losing their jobs, half fret they will be unable to keep up with mortgage and credit card payments, and seven in 10 are anxious that their stocks and retirement investments are losing value, according to the poll.
Also, there is widespread distress about being able to afford unexpected medical expenses and children's college expenses, and having to postpone retirement because their savings have eroded, the survey found.
The AP-Yahoo News poll, conducted by Knowledge Networks, has repeatedly interviewed a group of about 2,000 people since November to get a person-by-person view of how the country is reacting to the presidential campaign and events affecting it.
The picture the survey paints of those who have grown less happy since September is telling.
• While about one-third overall worry about financing a child's college education, six in 10 people under age 45 are anxious about it.
• Fifty-three percent worry they will have to work longer because their retirement savings have dwindled, and 66 percent of people in their 40s feel that way.
• One-third worry about losing their jobs, but nearly half in their 30s and 40s do.
• Forty-six percent of whites and 62 percent of blacks worry about making mortgage and credit card payments.
• Sixty-six percent overall are concerned about facing major medical bills, including 78 percent of unmarried women.
• Nearly eight in 10 college graduates worry that the value of their stocks and retirement investments is falling.
The AP-Yahoo News poll included 841 likely voters, was conducted from Oct. 3-13, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. Included were interviews with 373 Democrats, 252 Republicans and 214 independents.