Poll: Less Job Security is the "New Normal"

Half think future job security will be worse than before the recession.

ByABC News
December 15, 2008, 12:03 PM

June 15, 2009— -- Battered by the worst recession in decades, vast numbers of Americans see lean times ahead for the long term – and plan to recalibrate their lives accordingly.

Two concerns stand out in particular: Half the population in this new ABC News poll thinks both job security and retirement prospects in the years ahead will remain worse than their pre-recession levels. Four in 10 also see worsened prospects for the availability of jobs and advancement, and, consequently, their own spending power.

Click here for PDF with charts and full questionnaire.

Those diminished expectations – plus the pain of the current downturn – are fueling retrenchments in consumer behavior that could fundamentally reshape the economy. Majorities in this national survey say they plan in the years ahead to spend less, save more, invest more conservatively and, above all, to cut their credit card debt.

The ultimate extent of this potential realignment depends on the depth of the recession and nature of the recovery that follows. But consumer pullback already is well under way: Retail sales in May were down 9.6 percent from a year earlier, consumer credit declined at an annual rate of 7.5 percent in April and the savings rate hit a 14-year high.

With consumer spending accounting for an estimated 70 percent of economic activity, these changes are profound. What lies ahead could be even more so.

Ongoing polling by ABC News has documented the extent of consumer pain to date. While there's been a largely politically inspired rise in expectations that the worst is over (chiefly among Democrats expressing confidence in the Obama administration), ratings of current economic conditions remain near their record low in 23 years of weekly polling, with rising gasoline prices threatening to darken the picture further.

This new survey, part of a weeklong ABC News series, "The New Normal," moves the discussion to more forward-looking measurements, asking Americans whether they think long-term economic conditions will regain, exceed or be worse than their pre-recession levels – and their own intentions to spend, save and take on debt in the future.