Although opinion polls have their flaws -- among other things, people are fickle and don't always mean or do what they say -- they can be of some help in determining which way the economic winds are blowing. More specifically, while I wouldn't bet the ranch on any one survey, a series of polls that tell a similar story should not be taken lightly. With that in mind, a just-released survey from the Pew Research Center, headlined "The Great Recession at 30 Months," reinforces other recent reports indicating that things are (still) not looking up as far as most Americans are concerned.
More than half (55%) of all adults in the labor force say that since the Great Recession began 30 months ago, they have suffered a spell of unemployment, a cut in pay, a reduction in hours or have become involuntary part-time workers, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center's Social and Demographic Trends Project.
The survey also finds that the recession has led to a new frugality in Americans' spending and borrowing habits; a diminished set of expectations about their retirements and their children's future; and a concern that it will take several years, at a minimum, for their family finances and house values to recover.
Here are just a few of the key findings:
The Recession at Work: The work-related impact of this recession extends far beyond the 9.7% who are unemployed or the 16.6% who (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) are either out of work or underemployed. The Pew Research survey finds that about a third (32%) of adults in the labor force have been unemployed for a period of time during the recession. And when asked about a broader range of work-related impacts, 55% of adults in the labor force say that during the recession they have suffered a spell of unemployment, a cut in pay, a reduction in hours or an involuntary spell in a part-time job.
Is It Over Yet? Most Americans (54%) say the U.S. economy is still in a recession; 41% say it is beginning to come out of the recession; and just 3% say the recession is over. Whites (57%) are more inclined than blacks (45%) or Hispanics (43%) to say the recession is ongoing. Republicans (63%) are more inclined than Democrats (43%) to say the same.
The New Frugality: More than six-in-ten Americans (62%) say they have cut back on their spending since the recession began in December 2007; just 6% say they have increased their spending. Asked to predict their spending patterns once the economy improves, nearly one-in-three (31%) say they plan to spend less than they did before the recession began, while just 12% say they plan to spend more. A majority say they expect to spend about what they did before the recession.
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