New Brunswick, N.J. (CBS DC) — The Great Recession personally affected a vast majority of Americans with 56 percent of a study saying they have less money in savings than they did before the economic decline.

A Rutgers Heldrich study finds that some 73 percent of Americans either lost a job themselves, or had a member of their household, a close relative, or a friend lose a job at some point in the past four years. The vast majority of respondents said they think college will be permanently out of reach for most young people.

The Great Recession is a global economic decline that began in December 2007 and took a particularly sharp downward turn in September 2008 when several large American banks required bailouts from U.S. taxpayers to pay off bad loans.

At the time the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development conducted this survey — January 9 to 16, 2013 — U.S. economic and labor market conditions were mixed, but improving. The January 2013 jobs report (issued in early February 2013) by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that unemployment was at 7.9%, well below the peak unemployment level of 10% during the depth of the recession.

By the end of 2012, the American job market had created nearly two million jobs in 2012 and recovered more than half of the nine million jobs lost since the Great Recession.

Co-author of the study, Cliff Zukin, told the New York Times, “This to me is why the recession was so all-consuming and is likely to influence the American psyche,” he said. “Almost everyone, four out of five, were directly or one step removed from unemployment and all that goes with it financially, socially, psychologically.”

“Diminished Lives and Futures: A Portrait of America in the Great-Recession Era,” explores the views of employed and unemployed Americans about the economy and their experiences during and after the Great Recession, and asks them to assess the nation’s political institutions, leaders, and public policies.

The study also found that a majority of Americans think it will take at least six years before the economy will full recover. 30 percent of respondents said they don’t think it will ever recover.


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