There are new jobs produced but old worries persist for people despite belt-tightening and boosted savings, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll.
About 46 percent of those surveyed say they are suffering from debt-related stress, and half of that group described their stress as "great deal" or "quite a bit."
On the other hand, about 53 percent say they feel little or no stress at all.
That's in line with findings from last year, even though times seem better today: The economy is growing and generating jobs, and households have made progress in repairing their financial footing, trimming debt, watching spending and saving more.
The economy has made a big turnaround from a year ago, so why aren't the stressed -- and the not-so-stressed -- feeling better?
For starters, it just doesn't feel much like a recovery to many people.
Unemployment is stubbornly high: 9.9 percent. The jobless face fierce competition for work. Those with a job are watching their paychecks shrink.
A growing number are at risk of falling into foreclosure, and only those with the most stellar credit probably can get a new loan. AP-GfK polls show only 20 percent say the economy is good, compared with 15 percent last year.
Ken Goldstein, an economist at the Conference Board, a research group that keeps close tabs on consumers, says it's people's circumstances -- more so than their sentiment about the economy -- that shape their confidence and their stress over debt.
The average amount owed on credit cards is $3,900, the poll said. That's down from $5,600 in the fall and $4,900 last spring.
The AP-GfK poll involved interviews with 1,002 adults and was conducted May 7-11. The margin of error was 4.3 percentage points.