Half of all Americans are so worried about the economy they feel a repeat of the Great Depression is at least somewhat likely, according to the results of a national poll released Friday.
That's a substantial increase from the 43 percent who were similarly pessimistic in November 1987, just after the stock market crash that year, said Decision Research Corp., which conducted the survey last month.Moreover, when counted together, general economic issues were singled out by 40 percent of those polled as their chief worry, said Robert S. Duboff, senior vice president and top executive at Decision Research.
Economic issues were by far the most frequently mentioned concerns, Duboff said. These issues included the federal budget deficit and the savings and loans crisis as well as vague economic concerns, he said.
Meanwhile, the second most commonly cited issue was the environment, mentioned by 35 percent of respondents, Duboff said. Fear of war in the Arabian Peninsula was next, mentioned by 31 percent, he said.
Growing gloom about the economy cut across sex and most age categories and was "the worst we've seen" in the half-dozen similar polls Decision Research has conducted over the past 13 years, Duboff said. The results of the poll in 1987 had been the most pessimistic to that date, he added.
Women were more negative about the economy overall, but slightly more men than women expressed great fears about the outlook for their own households.
Also, Americans were generally more worried about the U.S. economy than about that of the world at large, Decision Research said.
On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 means "not concerned" and 10 means "extremely worried," Americans' feelings on the economy averaged 7.4, up from 6.2 in 1987. Respondents rated their concerns about their own households at an averge 6.7 percent on the same scale, compared with 5.8 percent in 1987. And 27 percent of those responding listed their anxiety levels on their own households at the full 10.