Survey Says: Americans Are Conflicted About the Future of Our Economy

PerkStreet Financial, one of the new players in the online checking account world, recently teamed up with Harris Interactive and released a survey looking at consumer attitudes toward the future of our economy.  The survey took place over five days in June and included the opinions of 2,174 adults.  Men and women of varying financial stature were asked about a variety of topics and as expected, there’s a bit of confusion on what people are thinking.

It should be noted that 2,174 people hardly represents concrete results and unlike other surveys, this one does not use a probability model to determine broader results.  In English, this means there isn’t any +/- error margin because percentages were determined simply by taking answers and dividing by 2,174, the number of participants.  With 44% of Americans saying they are optimistic about the economy, that leaves 56% who think otherwise or just aren’t too sure.  So without further adieu, I present the PerkStreet Financial / Harris Interactive survey.

How The Economy is Affecting Parent/Child Relationships

Those with a child under 18 living in their household have been faced with decisions about what to tell them about the recession and its impact on their family’s finances.

  • Nearly one-quarter (24%) of adults with children under 18 in their household who were impacted by the recession said they have been forced to be more open with their children about the household’s financial situation. Nearly one-third (31%) of adults with teens (13 to 17 years old) in their household reported discussing household finances more openly with their children.
  • Among adults who have taken action because of the recession, 15% of those with children under 18 in their household have increased the amount of time they spend educating their children on money management.
  • Adults with children under 18 in their household were twice as likely as those without children in their household to say the recession has increased the number of arguments about money in their households (24% vs. 12%).

Different Regions Are Experiencing Different Symptoms

  • Those in the Midwest are more likely to blame Wall Street and big banks for the financial crisis (48%), compared to those in the West (39%).
  • Adults in the Northeast have been impacted more by the recession (84%) than those in the Midwest (77 %).

The Strain on Family Relationships

  • Among adults who said the recession had impacted them personally, one in five (20%) said it had increased the number of arguments in their households regarding money.
  • 8% of people affected by the recession reported a negative impact on their sex lives. Men were more likely than women to say the recession had affected their sex lives (10% of men compared to 6% of women).
  • In contrast, of those who said the recession impacted them personally, 23% of married people said the recession has brought them closer to their spouse as they managed financial challenges together.

Men and Women Never Agree on Anything

  • Women (84%) are more likely than men (76%) to feel personally impacted by the recession, and are also more likely to have taken action because of the recession (86 percent of women compared to 80 percent of men).
  • Among adults who have been impacted personally by the recession, 31% of women said the recession made them realize they had been spending frivolously, compared to 25% of men.
  • One in five of those who felt personally impacted by the recession said it has made it more acceptable to discuss money and finances with friends. Young women were more likely to feel this shift, at 28% of women ages 18 to 34, compared to 17% of men in the same age group.
  • Among adults who have been personally impacted by the recession, women (24%) were more likely than men (16%) to say there have been more arguments caused by money in their households.

Older Americans are More Skeptical About Recovery

  • 21% percent of Americans believe the worst of the recession is still to come. Older adults are less upbeat about the economy, with 29% of adults ages 55 and older believing the worst is still to come compared to only 12% of those 18-34. Men ages 55 and above are more pessimistic than men ages 18-34, with nearly one-third (31%) saying the worst is yet to come compared to 13%.
  • The recession has caused younger adults to consider the future, with 48% of those ages 18 to 34 reporting it has made them think more about financial planning.

The Road To Recovery Is Still Being Paved

  • While 71% of adults have a savings account only 17% report increasing the amount they save each month.
  • 70% of adults have a major credit card, yet only 34% of adults are using their credit cards less as a result of the recession.
  • Few people call themselves excellent money managers (26%), yet only 13% are increasing the time and effort they spend educating themselves on how to better manage and invest their money as a result of the recession.
  • 27% of those that have a debit card in their own name would rather pay a $30 overdraft fee than have their debit card declined in front of others.

What does all of this data represent in the end you ask?  Simply put, the recession is reaching most of America but in very different ways.  For some, it’s curtailing their spending habits while for others, it’s stressing out their personal and family lives.  Hopefully, we’ve seen the worst of what this recession has to offer but regardless of whether we take a step forward or back, make sure you have plans in place for both.  Remember, chance favors the prepared mind.

Published or Updated: July 18, 2010

Comments

  1. Denise says:

    Very interesting statistics. Thank you for sharing.

  2. canoam says:

    I am tired of all the economic negative news. I think the reason the
    economy sounds bad has less to do with an actual recession than
    media sensationalism and doomsday pessimism. Everyone was in a panic in 2008 because the price of oil was rising, but the sky did not fall. I don’t think the media should lie about a high unemployment rate, but I would like to hear more positive news stories.

    I did some research and found that there is plenty of good news out there:

    The stock market has risen 53% this year and is still cheap;
    Wells Fargo, Apple, Ford, SkyWest, Adidas, and Men’s Wearhouse have declared profits;
    US housing starts have increased;
    Business confidence has risen;
    Consumer spending is up;

    North Dakota has an unemployment rate of just 3.6%. If you don’t have a job, move. If you can’t sell your house at the price you want, you shouldn’t have paid so much for it. If you don’t want to move and make trade-offs, I guess that you aren’t that desperate for work.

    The United States will face a labor SHORTAGE in the next few years as millions of baby boomers retire. There are 76 million baby boomers, but Generation X only has 46 million people.

    If you really want to stay where you are and haven’t found a job, think of a way to make money from your hobbies. Do you like to cook? Are you good are fixing things? Do you like to paint? I strongly believe that if you do what you love, the money will follow. Just because someone says there is a recession, doesn’t make it true. Just because most people used to believe the world was flat, did that make it true? If you are feeling negative, I highly recommend the book “You Can Have it All”:

    You might also feel less sorry for yourself or the economy if put your life in perspective. Would you rather live in Zimbabwe where the GDP per capita income is $200 per YEAR?

    Even if things are really bad for you and you become homeless, there is a safety net of food banks, shelters, general relief, and food stamps. You could join a commune or a monastary.

    America needs a good pep talk instead of negativity. I really think Obama would be more helpful to the economy by talking about the positive sides instead of pushing expensive stimulus programs. People should live within their means to avoid crashing the economy, but even when overextended, the United States has managed to pay the massive debts of the Depression and WWII.

    While I am not blind to the difficulties that may exist in the present economy, I just think people should be more optimistic and look at the good sides. I remember when I was in middle school in the mid 1980’s and had a teacher who asked my classmates whether the USA was on the way to the peak of power, at the peak, or on the way down. I was the only student who said the US hasn’t reached the peak yet. A few years later the Soviet Union collapsed, the Japanese economy crashed, and America was the only superpower.

    I am not even sure if there is a recession, but if there is one, I think it will be short.

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