The pollsters at Gallup have identified a clear and perhaps discouraging trend among American dreamers: Since 2001, the belief that this is the land of opportunity has tumbled 17 percent.

This trend began to appear even before the recession—in fact, in the heady days just before it – when everyone believed that they could own a home as long as they could sign their name to a piece of paper.

But this trend emerged clearly during the recession, and hasn't come close to bouncing back to 2001's level.

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.