The IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index for September rose slightly, but remains below the neutral level as nearly half of Americans say the U.S. is still in recession.

The overall reading for the IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index climbed to 45.2 in September from August's 44.5, which was the lowest reading of the year. The index has been below the neutral 50 level for nearly two years.

Americans see the economy through a partisan lens. Democrats are upbeat about the economy, while Republicans and independents are fairly gloomy.

Among the major subindexes:

* The Six-Month Economic Outlook, a measure of how consumers feel about the economy's prospects in the next six months, improved 1 point, or 2.4%, to 42.8.

* The Personal Financial Outlook, a measure of how Americans feel about their own finances in the next six months, gained 0.2 point, or 0.4%, to 54.5.

* Confidence in Federal Economic Policies, a measure of views on how government economic policies are working, rose 0.8 point, or 2.1%, to 38.3.

Even though the downturn ended more than five years ago, it doesn't feel that way to many Americans: 47% say the U.S. is still in a recession vs. 49% who say it isn't. Notably, 54% of independents believe America is in a recession.

And Americans aren't expecting much improvement. Just 13% expect economic conditions to be better in six months, vs. 33% who say they will be worse and 48% who think they'll be about the same.

President Obama gets low marks for his handling of the economy. Just 31% say he's doing a good job on the economy vs. 45% who say his performance has been poor. Among independents, 19% say he's handling the economy well vs. 52% who say he is not. Democrats are cheerleaders (63%-10%) and Republicans are jeering (9%-78%).

Submit to DeliciousSubmit to DiggSubmit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to StumbleuponSubmit to TechnoratiSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn