n the eve of the 2012 elections, The Associated Press interviewed dozens of Americans to try to gauge the economic mood of the nation. People were asked about jobs, housing, gas prices, retirement and other issues. Among them was Vicki Williams, 47, of Mechanicsville, Va., outside Richmond. Williams feels secure in her job as an occupational therapist for a school district. Her view of the economy has brightened. Yet she worries that the nation has drifted away from a political culture that once seemed more inclined to help the needy.
Williams says she can see the economy getting better, little by little.
She knows more people who have found jobs in recent months, particularly those with skills and advanced degrees in business or health care. And she sees more friends confident enough in the economy to invest in long-delayed home improvement work.
"People aren't as fearful about any minute they will lose their job," Williams says.
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