The declining economy and perceptions of the misuse of government power have caused many to lose hope in the American Dream, according to a new survey from Yahoo Finance. The survey revealed that while 53 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 64 still view America as the land of opportunity, 41 percent feel the American Dream is out of reach. 

The underlying trends are moving in a positive direction, and, in many instances, are better than most people think and expect. But there's an overwhelming sense of fragility, said Daniel Gross, economics editor at Yahoo Finance. As the mood sours, the U.S. economy continues to grind its way slowly, even if many people feel as though the recession hasn't ended. 

 Other key findings include:

  • Poor Retirement Savings: 37 percent of adults overall (and 41 percent of women) have no retirement savings. While most adults are confident they will be able to retire, 38 percent plan to live off Social Security.  
  • Lack of Confidence in the Economy & Government: Consumer sentiment continues to be pessimistic, with 63 pecent of adults and 72 percent of those over 55 thinking the U.S. economy is getting worse. Only about one-quarter of the public is confident that President Obama and Congress can fix the financial crisis.
  • Dwindling College Funds: About one-third of adults plan to support their kids until they finish college, but over half admit to not having any college savings for their children. Shockingly, of those who do have their children's college savings in place, 22 percent have used them for other expenditures such as groceries and mortgage/rent payments. Seven percent admit they used their child's college funds on vacations and shopping.
  • Job Security Worries: 90 percent of adults are concerned with current unemployment levels, with 62 percent indicating they are very concerned for their own job security. Parents are also very worried about how their children will fare, with 91 percent reporting concern about the economic outlook for their kids' generation and 92 percent reporting concern over future job opportunities for their children.
  • Personal Financial Position: Most adults (53 percent) rate their financial position as only satisfactory, with 32 percent saying it's poor, and over one-third of adults (34 percent) have less savings now than they did last year.
  • Better for the Children?: Parents, especially moms and younger parents, are optimistic about their kids' future financial well-being; 45 percent believe their kids will be better off than they are. However, 43 percent worry that their kids will not be able to afford to send their own children to college.