Recession Analysis

Test your knowledge of how Americans are coping with the downturn.


As we note elsewhere in this issue, CFOs are much more upbeat about the economic outlook these days, but that newfound optimism hasn't yet translated into increased spending or hiring (see "Waiting for a Sign"). Something similar is happening on Main Street, where confidence has increased but it's still no problem to find a plum parking space at the mall. How much do you know about the current attitudes and behaviors of Americans as they cope with this never-ending recession?

1) Among working Americans, the recession has caused stress in what percentage of families?

A. 32%
B. 55%
C. 67%
D. 88%

2) Nearly everyone is tightening his or her belt these days. Among Americans ages 18–64, which of these cost-cutting measures is the most common?

A. Changed/canceled cell-phone service
B. Cut back on alcohol/cigarettes
C. Reduced or canceled cable/satellite TV
D. Canceled yard/home maintenance services

3) Another popular belt-tightening move is to eat at restaurants less frequently. What percentage of Americans have taken that step?

A. 25%
B. 41%
C. 56%
D. 73%

4) Democrats and Republicans rarely agree on the state of the economy. In December, 65% of Democrats rated the U.S. economy as "poor," compared with 48% of Republicans. As of June, the gap had:

A. Widened, with 71% of Democrats giving the thumbs down while Republicans held nearly steady at 49%
B. Equalized, with 59% of Democrats taking a dim view, compared with 57% of Republicans
C. Switched, with 50% of Democrats saying it was poor, compared with 58% of Republicans

5) Which of the following economic concerns worries Americans least?

A. Real-estate values
B. Rising prices
C. Financial markets
D. Employment

6) How you feel about the economy may hinge on how much you earn. While the percentage of people making $30,000 or more who believe the U.S. economy will improve over the next year rose by 15% in June, among those making under $30,000 the percentage who feel more optimistic:

A. Increased by 25%
B. Increased by 5%
C. Showed no change
D. Declined by 10%

7) One polarizing economic issue today is whether a higher priority should be given to spending as a way to stimulate the economy, or to deficit reduction as a way to restore balance. Which age group is most in favor of making deficit reduction a higher priority?

A. 18–29
B. 30–49
C. 50–64
D. 65+

Source: Pew Research Center, June 2009

Answers: 1–B; 2–B; 3–C; 4–C; 5–A; 6–D; 7–D


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