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Post-Recession Americans "Unhappy, Worried, Pessimistic"

More than one-third of Americans believe the economy will never fully recovery from the Great Recession.

| BY Donald Liebenson


Despite encouraging signs that the economic recovery is gaining tracking, the perception among Americans is that the U.S. economy has undergone a permanent change for the worse, according to a new national Rutgers study. Seven percent believe that the recession’s impact is permanent, up from 50 percent in 2009 when the recession was declared officially ended.

The report’s title says it all: “Unhappy, Worried and Pessimistic: Americans in the Aftermath of the Great Recession. Among the key findings:

Just one in six Americans believe that job opportunities for the next generation will be better (five years ago, four-in-ten held that attitude)

About four-in-five Americans have little or no confidence that the federal government will make progress on the nation’s most important problems over the next year.

Thirty percent believe it will take 3-5 years for the economy to fully recover from the great Recession; 24 percent believe it will take 6-10 years, and 36 percent believe it will never fully recover

The mindset of recession-weary Americans has not been buoyed by such positive developments as the decline in unemployment from 8.2 percent in March 2013 to 6.2 percent in July as well as the addition in the past year of 2.5 million jobs. The U.S. has posted 53 straight months of economic growth, the longest period of consistent job growth on record.

But other indicators are less positive, the report notes. As of July, nearly 9.7 million workers were unemployed, while the jobs that have been created since the recession have been in low-wage occupations rather than the high-and middle-wage jobs that were lost.

The general feeling that the Great Recession has fundamentally changed American life for the worse…is firmly anchored in personal experience, the report states:

  • 35 percent say the Great Recession permanently changed their life
  • Two-thirds of all adults say it had an impact on their own standard of living
  • One-quarter describe it as a “major” change
  • Adding to their gloomy assessment is their work mindset. Only 14 percent report being happy on the job, while 70 percent report feeling insecure in their jobs and 68 percent say they are highly stressed.

It would be an understatement to say that respondents aren’t looking to their lawmakers to set things right. Just 2 percent said they have “a lot” of confidence that the federal government will make progress over the next year on the most important problems facing the country. Nearly eight-in-ten said they have either “not much” or “no confidence at all.”

Hindsight is 20-20, and non-Millionaire households with a net worth of at least $100,000 told Millionaire Corner mostly regret that they had not saved more prior to the Great Recession. Nearly half (46 percent) expressed this regret, while 20 percent said if they could do things differently, they would not have taken on so much debt.



About the Author


Donald Liebenson

dliebenson@millionairecorner.com

Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.  

A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.