New Poll: Americans Are More Cynical and Anxious About the Economy than Ever

Americans’ pessimism and anxiety over the economy is on the rise, the Associated Press reported. A newly released study looking into the consequences of the recession for workers has revealed that seven out of 10 Americans say the impact of the Great Recession is permanent, despite lower unemployment and stock market gains.

Researchers at Rutgers University surveyed 1,153 adults between July 24 and August 3 to find that only one in three thinks the economy has gotten better over the past year, while one-quarter thinks it may improve next year. Contrast that to 2009 when five months after the recession, only 49 percent thought the downturn would have a long-lasting effect despite a higher unemployment rate of 9.9 percent compared with 6.2 percent today.

According to Carl Van Horn, co-author of the report, the growing cynical outlook is based on the slow pace of economical improvement over the last six years and failure to return to the pay levels most enjoyed before its collapse.

“Fully one-quarter of the public says there has been a major decline in their quality of life owing to the recession, and 42 percent say they have less in salary and savings than when the recession began,” he said in the study's opening statement. “Despite five years of recovery, sustained job growth and reductions in the number of unemployed workers, Americans are not convinced the economy is improving.

In fact, only seven percent surveyed said they're “significantly better off." According to the Associated Press, this correlates with Sentier research which shows the median household income was $53,891 in June 2014, down from an inflation-adjusted $56,604 at the start of the recession. The majority of those surveyed said they fear job security has all but vanished and that they will have no choice but to work into retirement, with many struggling with overhanging mortgage debts and risking layoffs.

Not even evidence that the economy is growing stronger can shake the gloomy outlook of Americans. Only 14 percent said stock market gains – which have surged more than 170 percent since 2009 – affected them personally.

“Looking at the aftermath of the recession, it is clear that the American landscape has been significantly rearranged,” co-author Cliff Zukin said, New Jersey Biz reported.  “With the passage of time, the public has become convinced that they are at a new normal of a lower, poorer quality of life. The human cost is truly staggering.”


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