Americans are still worried about the U.S. economic recovery, the possibility of further economic decline and their own job security. Those concerns are expressed in a new survey of residents in the northeast state of Massachusetts conducted by Suffolk University and The Boston Globe newspaper.
"The poll finds that people think the (economic) recovery is underway, but they don't really see it yet in their own lives. They're concerned about their jobs, they're concerned about their retirement, they're concerned about maintaining their standard of living. And, because of that, they're still cutting back on their spending, which, as we know, is really important for the U.S. economy. And, the type of self-sustaining recovery that economists are hoping for is going to need for consumers to start stepping up (and begin to spend)," says Boston Globe reporter Robert Gavin.
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Two of three surveyed say the recovery is underway, but less than one-third expect things to get better by year’s end.
The survey, conducted 11-13 October, found 44% "concerned" or "very concerned" about job security. Nearly one in five said someone in their household has lost a job during the recession. Unemployment in Massachusetts is at 9.3%, lower than the 9.8% national jobless rate. Still, it’s the highest since 1976.
Joblessness is affecting peoples’ spending habits that drive much of the U.S. economy. Forty-one percent said they are spending less than six months ago, compared with 37% when a similar poll was taken in March.Only 5% said they are thinking about buying a home in the next six months, while only 6% are thinking of selling.
A recent state sales tax increase (from 5% to
6.25%) is also squeezing consumers. Nearly 40% said the added tax
burden has forced them to cut spending.
The poll did indicate a glimmer of hope. Fewer people said they were ‘very concerned’ about maintaining
their standards of living -- 28% vs. 32% in March. And, the
number ‘very concerned’ about paying their mortgages has also slipped slightly.
President Obama’s approval
ratings in Massachusetts have suffered. Fifty-seven percent approved of
his handling of the economy, down from 65% in March.