Congress members least trusted professionals by the American public, poll finds

(CNN) -- While Members of Congress have a slightly higher honesty rating than last year, the lawmakers are still considered the least trusted professionals by the American public, barely edging out car salespeople for the lowest spot, according to a new Gallup survey released Monday.

Congress has had consistently low approval ratings over the years and 2012 is no exception, with more than half of Americans--54%--saying lawmakers on Capitol Hill have low or very low ethical standards and only 10% saying the elected officials have high or very high standards.

The poll numbers come as Republicans and Democrats are locked in a bitter battle in Congress over how to reach a deficit-reduction agreement before an end-of-the-year deadline. If they fail to act, a large amount of tax hikes and spending cuts will kick in at the start of next year, a fiscal shift that could put the economy into a recession.

Out of the 22 professions measured, nurses topped the list, with 85% of Americans saying they have high standards. Pharmacists, medical doctors, and engineers also have high marks.

Car salespeople don't fall too far behind members of Congress, as 49% of Americans say they don't trust car dealers, according to the survey.

This year's rating is three points higher than last year, when members of Congress came in at seven percent, the lowest point in the survey's 15 years.

Senators hold slightly higher trust among the public. Fourteen percent said lawmakers from the upper chamber are honest and have good ethics.

Gallup interviewed 1,015 adults by telephone from November 26 through November 29, a few weeks after the campaign season ended on Election Day. The poll has a sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points.

CNN's Ashley Killough contributed to this report.
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