Americans are growing more pessimistic about the economy in the wake of a recession that left a more lasting impression on many families than any other event in the past decade.
For nearly half of Americans surveyed in the August WSJ/NBC News poll, the lasting recession and painfully slow recovery carried more of a personal impact in the past decade than the events of September 11, 2001 or the following wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Families grew more concerned about their personal finances and the risk of slipping back into a recession. And Americans remained divided on how best to solve the nation’s fiscal woes.
The economy officially slipped into recession in late 2007, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, and while the downturn officially ended more than two years ago, the unemployment rate remains at 9.1% and the economy is barely growing. Some 46% of those surveyed ranked the economic recession as the event that has had the most impact on them personally in the past 10 years, more than doubling the 20% who said it was the terrorist attacks on September 11. Just 11% listed the federal budget deficit.
Americans see little sign of improvement in the nation’s economy. Nearly four in ten (39%) surveyed in August said their personal economic situation has deteriorated in the past year, up four percentage points from a month earlier. Just 14% said their situation has improved and 47% said it stayed the same.
Nearly half, 49%, said the nation was headed into another recession, up from 44% who said the same in June.
Most of those surveyed, 56%, still said Congress and the president should worry more about keeping the budget deficit down than boosting the economy. Just 38% said policymakers should worry more about boosting the economy even if it means larger deficits.
Ahead of President Barack Obama’s speech on jobs and the economy this week, Americans felt most favorable about paying for long-term unemployed workers to train at companies for eight weeks and giving companies an option to hire them. Of those surveyed, 62% said it was a good idea compared to 17% who said it was a bad one.