While an official recession was just announced yesterday, Americans have long felt the effects of a battered economy; and unfortunately, they don't think the near future will be anything to write home about either, according to a HarrisInteractive study released Tuesday. The Harris Poll, a new study of 2,126 U.S. adults surveyed in November, shows that attitudes on the economy remain bleak. Almost three in five Americans said their household's financial condition has worsened when compared to a year ago, while 28 percent said it has remained the same and just 14 percent said it improved. When the study's participants were asked to project their financial situation six months from now, one-third said they believe their condition will worsen and 43 percent predicted it would remain the same.  While almost one quarter of Americans are still hopeful their financial situation will improve over the next six months, it's a far less optimistic crowd than in July, when 36 percent of participants believed things would get better. "The American sense of optimism has faded to despair and is deepening every day that the economic crisis continues," said HarrisInteractive in a press release Tuesday. But Americans don't feel alone in the struggle; 74 percent would rate the economic conditions of their entire region as "bad," and only 10 percent classified the economic health of their region as "good." As for the future, over 53 percent of participants said they are pessimistic about their region's economy over the next six months -- one quarter were optimistic and 23 percent were neither optimistic or pessimistic. "People are hunkering down for more...and have taken steps to protect themselves for the next six months by not spending — no big ticket items, no vacations, no eating out and no entertainment," HarrisInteractive said. "Until the new Presidential administration works through a comprehensive economic stimulus package, Americans will do what is best for them — spend less and wait it out." Americans, wading through tough times, are also faced with the decision to save or invest their money -- a crucial decision in today's volatile economy.  The Harris Poll reported 49 percent are likely to save or invest more money while 51 percent are content holding onto it for now. Write to Kelly Curran at kelly.curran@housingwire.com.