U.S. Economy In Permanent Decline, Say 39 Percent of Americans: Poll

Two-Fifths Of Americans Believe Economy Is In 'Permanent Decline': Survey

As QE2 comes to an end Thursday, and experts try to predict what’s next for the U.S. economy, a new poll suggests a significant percentage of American thinks the economy will only continue to get worse, forever.

A New York Times/CBS News poll finds that 39 percent of respondents believe “the current economic downturn is part of a long-term permanent decline and the economy will never fully recover.”

The survey is only one of a recent spate indicating widespread distress over the state of the economy. On June 8, a CNN poll found that 48 percent of Americans believe another Great Depression is either very likely or somewhat likely.

A striking chart from the University of Michigan showed a steep decline in the number of consumers who expected their family income to rise within the next 12 months. Another survey, conducted by the company BIG Research, found similar results -- in that poll, 89 percent of respondents said they don't expect to receive a salary increase in the next year.

And a poll taken by Harris Interactive and released Wednesday found that 74 percent of Americans had an overall negative opinion of the way President Obama is handling the employment situation.

Obama escapes relatively unscathed in the NYT/CBS poll: Only 8 percent of respondents think his administration is “mostly to blame for the current state of the nation’s economy.” The Bush administration comes in for the biggest share of blame -- 26 percent -- while another 25 percent say Wall Street and financial institutions are at fault.

In what might be taken as an encouraging sign, 57 percent of respondents to the NYT/CBS poll said that the current economic downturn was only temporary, and that “eventually the economy will fully recover.”

Still, that portion of optimists has fallen from 68 percent in October 2010, the last time a NYT/CBS poll asked this question. And in October, only 28 percent of people believed the U.S. economy was in permanent decline -- marking an 11-point increase between now and then.

Much has been written since the start of the economic crisis about the dangers of fatalism. Earlier this week, in an essay for Time, Zachary Karabell argued that “the American optimism deficit” could prove “self-fulfilling.”

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