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The Economy Is Much Worse Than the Data Show

The Great Recession may have officially ended in June of 2009 (according to the National Bureau of Economic Research), but many Americans are still extremely pessimistic about the economy. That’s the conclusion of a national survey conducted by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University.

Nearly 1,100 employed and unemployed Americans participated in the survey from Jan. 9 to Jan. 16. The survey’s lead researcher Mark Szeltner joined The Daily Ticker to discuss the data and what it reveals about the national psyche.

Here are some of the survey’s key findings:

  • Eight in 10 Americans are skeptical that career and employment opportunities will be better for the next generation.

  • More than half of Americans say the economy will not fully recover from the 2007-2009 recession for another six years; 29% believe the economy will never fully recover.

  • 73% of Americans were directly impacted by the recession: individuals surveyed had either lost a job themselves or a family member/close relative had been out work because of the economic downturn.

  • The majority of survey participants said college would become unaffordable for most young Americans.

  • 56% reported having fewer savings than before the recession.

  • More than half of those who were laid off or lost a job said they cut back on medical treatment or doctor visits.

  • 40% of Americans have borrowed money from family or friends.

  • Nearly 25% of participants said they have sought professional help for stress or depression.

Even as the national unemployment rate has fallen from its peak of 10% in October 2009 to the current 7.9%, and there have been more than 35 consecutive months of private-sector job growth, the survey's data "speaks to the scope, magnitude and the persistence of the recession,” says Szeltner. It revealed “a really depressing image of what’s happening right now to many Americans," he adds.

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