In August and September 2011, thousands of consumers were surveyed about the economy for the TIME/Money Americans’ Financial Values Survey. The results of the survey show that the nation is far from optimistic about both the state of the economy today but also the ability for this economy to recover in a reasonable amount of time.
The very first question asked survey respondents to rate the nation’s current economic condition using the following scale: excellent, good, only fair or poor. The majority of those surveyed, 64 percent, stated that the economy is in poor condition with 31 percent considering it to be in fair condition. Interestingly enough, one percent of the votes went to excellent. I may not be as pessimistic about the economy as others but I don’t see anything excellent about it.
Survey participants were then queried about the state of the economy today when compared to one year ago. Votes were split fairly evenly between same (45 percent) and worse (44 percent) with only 9 percent of respondents saying that the economy is better today than it was one year ago.
If you look back to last year, the August 2010 unemployment rate was at 9.6 percent, a slight increase over the July 2010. August 2011 unemployment was better, at only 9.1 percent. However, no new jobs were added in August, which is a point of concern for economists. While the unemployment situation is just one factor used to determine the health of a nation’s economy, the fact that it still remains quite high is obviously having an impact on consumer perception.
As the survey continued, participants were asked about the recovery. With fears of a double-dip recession looming, people were asked to guess how long it would take for the economy to start to recover. Note that they were asked how long it would take for the recovery to start, not for the nation to completely recovery. This is where the responses get extremely pessimistic.
A full 25 percent of those surveyed said that we are at the start of a long-term decline and could not put a time frame on economic recovery. When a similar survey was conducted in June 2008, smack dab in the middle of The Great Recession, no one felt that we were starting a long term decline.
In fact, in 2008 no one voted for “more than three years” and the majority of those surveyed felt that the economy would start to recover within three years (63 percent). Here we are, a bit more than three years later and the attitude about the nation’s economic recovery has drastically changed.
Unfortunately the pessimism continues throughout the rest of the survey. See what survey participants think the nation needs to do to get out of the economic downturn and more by downloading the survey results, TIME/Money Americans’ Financial Values Survey (PDF).