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Corporations are rising in reputation: Harris Poll

Despite stagnant wages, growing inequality and millions out of work for six months or longer, Americans today are more positive about corporations than they've been since the Great Recession started in early 2008. That's the key finding of a new Harris poll on corporate reputation. 

Leading the list: Amazon.com (AMZN) followed by Coca-Cola (KO),  Apple (AAPL), Walt Disney (DIS) and Honda (HMC).

"It's been a grudging rise ... but it has been steady," says Mike Santoli, senior columnist at Yahoo Finance.  Four years into an economic recovery has led to a sensibility that "it wasn’t all corporations that got us into that mess," says Santoli.

On the flip side, "It's not that all of a sudden Americans love corporations but that they seem to hate them less," says The Daily Ticker's Aaron Task.

Amazon ranked #1, while Google (GOOG) experienced a significant decline in reputation though it's not at the bottom of the pack.

Amazon gives "the general expression that [it's] taking over the world and is always a presence in your life," says Santoli. "Google seems to want to take more and more of your information."

Google may be feeling the heat of the public's growing concern about personal privacy. "Americans remain apprehensive about corporate use of digital information," according to Harris press release.

The poll found 76% of the public is concerned about the amount of private information companies capture about customers but only 44% trust companies will act responsibly with that information.

Some other surprises of the poll: financial companies have made a comeback in reputation, including AIG (AIG), Goldman Sachs (GS) , Wells Fargo (WFC) and Citigroup (C). AIG, once 85% owned by the U.S. government after a bailout, had the biggest improvement in reputation among financial firms.

Not so surprising from the poll's results is a growing disenchantment with retailers like J.C. Penney (JCP) and Sears (SHLD) -- both struggling to keep and attract customers, and Target (TGT),  which suffered a massive cyber attack on customers' credit cards during the holiday shopping season.

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