More than 70% of Americans think that the country is still in a recession, according to a new Bloomberg survey. Only 17% of those surveyed believe they are better off now than when President Obama took office.
Is it any wonder? Americans face unemployment that is just below 10% and may remain there for several more months, perhaps longer. The housing market is still troubled with 11 million or more home loans underwater -- about 25% of all mortgages. Foreclosures are still near record highs. Consumer credit is tight.
The amazing thing about the study is that it shows the divide between Wall Street economists and White House financial experts on the one hand and Main Street on the other. While many economists have said the recession is over, the general public says not so fast. Of those surveyed, 13% feel "the economy is faltering and will dip back into recession."
One of the most important things that economists fail to note is that in addition to unemployment -- and underemployment at nearly 17% -- a large number of employed are worried about the future of their jobs. The number cannot be accurately calculated, but when those with jobs see neighbors and relatives out of work and unemployment benefits running out, it's only natural that concern about permanent work should spread.
Workers know that some companies will squeeze what they can out of their current workforce rather than risk hiring while the economy is still shaky. And the same firms often turn to part-time workers to avoid full salaries and expensive benefits.
"Running Out of Patience"
The Bloomberg study also shows that people are torn, as many politicians are, over the issues of reducing the deficit and stimulating the economy to create jobs. More than half of those polled said that the deficit is "dangerously out of control."
"They're just running out of patience," says J. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Co., a Des Moines, Iowa-based company that conducted the survey. "The number they're seeing change is the deficit. It's rising at what seems like an astronomical rate. The number that seems intractable is the unemployment rate."
When asked to identify the cornerstones of the economic malaise, unemployment and the federal deficit dwarfed all other concerns of those surveyed.
The Bloomberg National Poll is based on interviews with 1,004 U.S. adults ages 18 or older. Percentages based on the full sample may have a maximum margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
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