Americans remained gloomy about the economy for a third straight month, while the six-month outlook gauge fell to a 10-month low, according to the latest IBD/TIPP Poll.
The IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index is 48.1 in July, unchanged from a month earlier and down from 49.7 in May.
The reading topped the neutral 50 twice in early 2015, as drivers enjoyed a windfall from cheaper gasoline. But prices at the pump have rebounded significantly from January's lows.
The U.S. is adding jobs, but June's employment report out last Thursday showed labor participation falling to the lowest since 1977 while wages stalled.
"Americans are split on their assessment of current economic conditions — 48% think it is improving, while 49% think it is not," said Raghavan Mayur, president of TechnoMetrica, IBD's polling partner. "The stock market is also under pressure."
As 2015 wears on, the year-over-year comparisons for energy costs will get harder.
Whether or not Americans realize that, they are increasingly gloomy about the future.
The Six-Month Outlook Index fell for a third straight month, sinking 0.8 point to 44.5. That's the lowest since last September.
Meanwhile, the Personal Financial Outlook Index fell to 55.6 from June's 57.7 and May's long-time high of 58.3.
Confidence in federal economic policies shot up 3 points to a still-low 44.2.
Within the overall index, confidence fell 2.8 points to 48.2 among men, but rose 2.8 points to 48 among women.
With the S&P 500 retreating since late May, self-described investors were more pessimistic about the economy now and at year-end, while non-investors were less so on both counts.
But Americans could get a fresh gas-infused jolt to their wallets in the coming weeks. Gas prices have dipped again and that could continue as crude futures tumble on China concerns.