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Scars of recession

world Updated: Jul 01, 2010 00:18 IST
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The recession has directly hit more than half of the nation's working adults, pushing them into unemployment, pay cuts, reduced hours at work or part-time jobs, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

The economic shock has jolted many Americans into a new, more austere reality, which is likely to have lasting consequences for an economy fueled mostly by consumer spending. More than six in 10 Americans say they have cut down on borrowing and spending, the survey found.

The reason: Nearly half of the survey's respondents say they are in worse financial shape as a result of the downturn, which destroyed 20 per cent of Americans' wealth.

The longest and deepest recession since the Great Depression has exacted a punishing toll that continues nearly a year after the economy started growing again. Hardest hit are the 9.7 per cent of workers who have been out of a job for an average of nearly six months.

Many Americans are delaying retirement and others have lower expectations for their children's futures, the Pew poll found.

Among adults 62 and older who are still working, 35 per cent say they have postponed retirement. Six in 10 working adults between ages 50 and 61 say they may be forced to do the same.

Meanwhile, half of respondents say they have whittled down their mortgages, credit card balances, car loans and other borrowing.

Four in 10 adults say they have tapped savings and retirement accounts to make ends meet. Others have sought help from friends and family. Almost a quarter say they have borrowed money from someone. And one in 10 — including 24 per cent of workers from 18 to 29 years old — say they moved back in with their parents to weather the economic storm. The new, more frugal lifestyles may outlast the recession and its immediate aftermath, the survey indicated.


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