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Most Americans think the recession permanently changed the economy

Yahoo Finance
Yahoo Finance
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The damage done by the Great Recession is permanent according to 71% of Americans. That comes despite news from the government this morning that the economy grew 4.2% in the second quarter, more than the 4% initially reported.

A new survey from Rutgers University shows just how deep the wounds of the Great Recession go. The number of Americans who think the recession did permanent damage has jumped in the past five years. In 2009, just 49% of people thought the effects of the downturn would be permanent.

“Even though there’s been a recovery by every technical measure, the average American is taking home less pay,” said Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Aaron Task. “If you’re taking home less pay, [the economy] doesn’t feel good, no matter what the Dow is doing or what the economists are saying.”

In fact, a new report from the Economic Policy Institute shows wages have fallen continuously. Hourly wages for the first half of the year have shrunk 0.9% when you account for inflation.

Another report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors showed an even bleaker picture – reporting workers are earning a whopping 23% less now than they were in 2008.

“Wages aren’t just down from where they were before the recession. They’re down since before the expansion began in 2009,” said Task.

The bleakest part of the Rutgers’ survey may be how Americans view the future. Just 16% of Americans think opportunities will be better for the next generation. In 2009 that number was 40% and back in 1999, 56% of Americans saw a brighter future.

“There is a concern that the economy has downshifted somewhat, [on a] I don’t want to say permanent, but on a long-term basis,” said Task.

But it’s not all bad news. Despite the overwhelmingly gloomy picture, a third of Americans told Rutgers that the recession did not impact them at all. Another third said that the negative impact was temporary.

And according to the Conference Board, Consumer Confidence is improving. The Index hit its highest level since 2007 in August. 

“You can find the statistic you want to support your thesis [on the economy],” said Task. “There are all sorts of numbers out there.”

The biggest economic number may in fact be the country’s GDP. The Commerce Department revised its second quarter growth estimate upward, reporting the economy grew 4.2% in the last quarter. That’s a solid comeback from the first quarter, when the economy shrank 2.1% due largely to the harsh winter.

Still, we may be seeing a new, slower trend of economic growth. “The data show that 2000, since 2000, even before the recession, the economy’s growth rate has been under 2%. Before that from World War II to 2000 it was about 3.5%," according to Task. 

We want to know what you think. Has the Great Recession had a permanent impact on you? Vote in our poll, or tell us in the comments below or on Twitter.