Although the number of Americans pessimistic about the economy in April was 49%, according to a Harris Interactive poll, it was slightly improved from the 54% who were pessimistic in April 2008.

In sync with this, 44% said they were optimistic or very optimistic, up from 41% a year ago.

“After months of bad news and declining economic indicators, we see some evidence that Americans are starting to look for reasons to be optimistic even if they expect the recession to continue,” said Carl George, chairman of the National CPA Financial Literacy Commission at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, which commissioned the survey. “That is a good sign. We hope to see continued improvement in optimism as the substantial federal policies put in place begin to lift the economy and confidence is restored.”

Americans’ attitudes toward banks, however, remains highly negative, with 79% saying they have a negative view of the U.S. banking system, and 28% saying they expect the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program will merely cover losses, rather than stimulate new credit.

On the other hand, 50% said they think President Barack Obama’s stimulus package will stimulate the economy over the next six months to two years. But 16% said it will take more than two years for the economy to improve, and 30% said the stimulus package will never help the economy.

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