Recession's Here, Believe Nine Out of Ten Americans

12 November 2008

SCHAUMBURG, Illinois: Almost nine in every ten adult Americans (86%) believe that the nation is in recession; while over half that number (54%) think the downturn will last for more than twelve months.

So reports Nielsen Consumer Research's Global Online Consumer Survey, conducted among 28,663 internet users in fifty-two national markets across Europe, Asia Pacific, North America and the Middle East between September 22 and October 6. 
Among the key findings ...

  • Women are more downbeat than men over the state of the nation, with more women (91%) than men (82%) believing that the US  economy is in recession.
  • Men were markedly more optimistic than women about the recession's end, with 27% of males responding affirmatively, compared to only 11% of females.
  • When asked about the state of their own personal finances over the next twelve months, 39% of females responded “not so good” compared to 28 percent of males.
  • Only 16% of women surveyed think their job prospects over the next twelve months will be good, compared to 26%.
  • Of those surveyed, 38% told Nielsen the ailing US economy would be their biggest concern over the next six months.
  • Increasing fuel prices were the top concern for 10% of respondents, followed by debt (9%), increasing utility bills (7%), increasing food prices (5%) and job security (ditto).
  • In order to cope with their economic woes, US consumers are trying to reduce their use of gas and electricity (67%), cutting back on out-of-home entertainment (56%), spending less on new clothes (55%) and using their cars less often (54%). Just 4% report taking no action at all.
Notes Nielsen's vp of marketing James Russo: "By the end of the second quarter, most US consumers had already come to the conclusion the country was in recession.

"As far as consumers are concerned, it doesn't particularly matter that a growing number of economic indicators are pointing in that direction. They were feeling pain in their wallets and bank accounts long before October's tumultuous stock market activity." 

[The Nielsen press release is curiously insular, given that it offers no information whatever about consumer attitudes beyond US shores, even though its domestic sample (circa 500) represents only 17.4% of the survey's total global sample.]

Data sourced from [edited] Nielsen press release; additional content by WARC staff