CBS Poll: Y2K Bug Only A Pest

Americans are relatively unconcerned with possible year 2000 computer mistakes, as a majority report that they are doing nothing to prepare for potential fallout from the Y2K bug.

While they expect the changeover to the year 2000 to cause some problems, most feel the problems will be minor, both in general and for themselves personally. At the same time, however, the public is increasingly skeptical that the Y2K computer problem will be solved by year's end.


In a poll conducted for CBS News Sunday Morning, 56 percent of Americans say they are doing nothing to prepare for potential problems caused by the changeover to the year 2000.

Among those who are preparing for Y2K, the most popular activity is stocking up on food and water. Other precautions include withdrawing money from the bank, upgrading computers, and copying bank records and electronic files.


Overwhelmingly Americans believe that Y2K will cause problems, but only 18 percent believe these problems will be major, while 62 percent see the potential problems as minor.

Sixty percent of Americans believe that Y2K will cause problems for them personally – only 8 percent predict they will face major problems, while 52 percent believe they will see minor problems, and 36 percent predict no problems.


As 1999 has progressed, Americans have become less confident that the Y2K problem will be fixed by the new year. In January of this year, half of the public believed that the Y2K problem would be fixed by year's end. In contrast, just over half now believe that the problem will not be fixed in time.

Computers users are the most leery that the problem will be solved in time: 56 percent of those with computer access feel the problem will not be fixed by the end of the year, versus only 40 percent of those with no computer access.

Despite their skepticism, however, over half of computer users report they are doing nothing to prepare for potential Y2K problems.

This poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample of 722 adults, interviewed by telephone July 13-14, 1999. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus four percentage points based on the entire sample. The sampling error for subgroups is higher.