NEW YORK Most U.S. consumers (86 percent) believe the country is currently in a recession, and more than half (54 percent) believe it will last longer than 12 months, Nielsen reported today.
The findings come from Nielsen's Global Online Consumer Survey, conducted in 52 markets worldwide between Sept. 22 and October 6, 2008. (Adweek is a unit of the Nielsen Co.)
Only 18 percent of U.S. consumers said they believe the recession would be over within a year. Younger participants (ages 25 to 29) expressed the least amount of confidence, with just 6 percent saying the recession would be over within 12 months. Older respondents (ages 65 and older) were also pessimistic about an immediate end to the recession -- only 7 percent told Nielsen they believe the recession would be limited to one year.
More women than men (91 percent vs. 82 percent) feel the U.S. economy is in recession. Men were also more optimistic than women about their personal finances -- 39 percent of females described their finances over the next 12 months as "not so good," compared with just 28 percent of males. In addition, only 16 percent of women surveyed think their job prospects over the next 12 months will be good, compared to 26 percent of men.
Of those surveyed, 38 percent told Nielsen the ailing U.S. economy would be their biggest concern over the next six months. Increasing fuel prices were the top concern for 10 percent of respondents, followed by debt (9 percent), increasing utility bills (7 percent), increasing food prices (5 percent) and job security (5 percent).
"By the end of the second quarter, most U.S. consumers had already come to the conclusion the country was in recession," James Russo, Nielsen's vp, marketing, noted. "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."
In order to cope with their economic woes, U.S. consumers are trying to reduce their use of gas and electricity (67 percent), cutting back on out-of-home entertainment (56 percent), spending less on new clothes (55 percent) and using their cars less often (54 percent). Just 4 percent report taking no action at all.
Those who do have extra money left after paying the bills told Nielsen they are hesitant to spend it. After covering essential living expenses, 38 percent of U.S. consumers put any spare cash into savings, while 36 percent use it to pay off debts, credit cards or loans. Nearly a quarter of consumers report having no spare cash.
7 months ago