Americans fear economy is permanently scarred

WASHINGTON - Americans are more worried about the economy than they were right after the Great Recession, new research suggests.

A survey released by researchers at Rutgers University says that this pessimism exists despite record Wall Street gains and a host of signs that the U.S. economy is gaining strength.

People's confidence in the economy has been eroded by the slow pace of improvement during the recovery," the school found.

"The vast majority of Americans see the recession as having wrought fundamental and lasting changes across a wide number of areas of economic and social life, including the affordability of college (historically important for upward mobility in American society), the age at which people are able to retire, workers' job security and retirees having to work part time," the researchers wrote.

Seventy-one percent of Americans surveyed say the recession put a permanent drag on the economy. In contrast, Rutgers researchers found in a similar survey in November 2009 that only 49 percent thought the downturn would have lasting damage.

That earlier 2009 survey was conducted five months after the recession officially ended. And when the 2009 survey was undertaken, national joblessness was at 9.9 percent of the labor force, compared to the current 6.2 percent.

Rutgers surveyed more than 1,100 people between July 24 and August 3.

Other findings from the survey:

  • 35 percent of respondents said the Great Recession permanently changed their life
  • Two-thirds of all adults said the recession had an impact on their standard of living
  • 1 in 6 Americans said the recession cause a "major and permanent" change in their lifestyle
  • 42 percent said have less in salary savings now than when the recession started
  • 60 percent say will take more than six years for the U.S. economy to fully recover from the recession
  • One-quarter of respondents said the recession has caused a major decline in their quality of life

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