Nearly three out of four Americans have been directly affected by the recession, either because they have been unemployed or know someone who has lost their job, according to a new survey.
The report, prepared by Rutgers professors Carl Van Horn and Cliff Zukin, find that 73% of Americans have either been unemployed themselves (14%) or saw an immediate family member (12%), another member of their family (30%) or a close friend (17%) lose a job.
The survey also finds profound pessimism about where the economy is headed. More than half of Americans say they believe the downturn reflects a "lasting economic change" (56%) rather than a "temporary economic downturn" (43%). Large majorities believe that the economy will remain in recession or worse a year from now.
"After suffering through the worst economic disaster most have ever experienced," Van Horn said in a statement, "American workers have diminished expectations about America's economic future and do not have much faith that the nation's political leaders can move the country forward."
Asked about the causes of joblessness, the survey respondents mentioned three above all: global economic competition, illegal immigration and Wall Street bankers.
The survey also found great skepticism about the government's ability to handle the economy and, despite the widespread impact and pain, no consensus about potential remedies. For example, a majority rejects further economic stimulus -- 70% disagree and only 30% agree that "The United States needs another economic stimulus package even if it causes the debt to increase." Yet a majority (54% to 46%) agrees that "the federal government should fund programs that create jobs for the unemployed even if the debt goes up." Americans were also evenly divided on whether the federal government should "cut taxes for businesses to create jobs" even if it increases the debt.