Bad Economy Is New Normal, More Americans Say

More Americans believe today than they did two years ago that their country will never fully recover from the Great Recession.

Fifty-six percent of Americans surveyed by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University in August 2010 said they believed the Great Recession would permanently change the economy. In a January follow-up survey, 60 percent of respondents agreed with that sentiment.

"Five years of economic misery have profoundly diminished Americans' confidence in the economy and their outlook for the next generation," Rutgers professor and survey co-author Carl Van Horn said in a statement.

Most survey respondents -- 73 percent -- had either lost their jobs or knew somebody who had. More than half said they have less money than they did before the recession, and 61 percent believe they will never fully recover.

Less than a third of workers think the economy will be better next year, and the same percentage thinks the economy will be worse. The rest think it will be the same. That finding isn't far off from the expectations of economists: The Congressional Budget Office said in a statement on Tuesday that unemployment will likely remain above 7.5 percent through next year. It's 7.9 percent right now.

Of workers who've found new jobs after being unemployed, 54 percent said they were making less money -- a finding that echoes data from the government's annual survey of displaced workers.

Less than a third of employed survey respondents said they blamed the unemployed for not having jobs. The survey's authors suggested that's probably because a vast majority of respondents had either experienced unemployment themselves or knew someone who had.

The January survey coincided with a big drop in consumer confidence that many economists attributed to the expiration of a payroll tax cut that shrank workers' take-home pay by 2 percent.

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