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Consumers Have Word for the Economy, and It’s Not Good

"Bad" is the term selected most often, with a host of negative terms filling out the top 10.

Respondents to a recent survey favored a word of the three-letter variety, “bad,” when asked to summarize their feelings about the economy, but a four-letter profanity worked its way in among the top 15 choices.
In the American Pulse survey of more than 6,000 adults, “bad” garnered 11.9 percent of the responses, followed by the more vernacular “sucks” and then “poor” at 6.3 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively.

“Terrible,” “depressing,” “sad,” “horrible,” “scary,” “worried” and “disappointing” rounded out the top 10 with responses ranging from 4.1 percent to 1.7 percent. “Crap” earned 11th place on the list, followed by the most optimistic response among the top 20, “hopeful,” with 1.6 percent, and then an undisclosed profanity, at 1.5 percent. An American Pulse spokeswoman confirmed the expletive totaled four letters.

Positive responses were rare. “OK” pulled in 0.8 percent, putting it in a tie with “slow,” “down” and “unstable” for 22nd place. “Improving” and “good” were chosen by 0.7 percent of respondents, earning a tie for 26th place.

Pressed for specifics on their sentiments about the economy, those surveyed were asked to characterize their living standards at the end of 2007 versus now. Five in nine — 55.9 percent — considered their pre-recession circumstances “good” versus just 25.6 percent now. Only 5 percent considered their situation “poor” in 2007 while 28.5 percent rated it that way during the survey period last month.

Respondents had contrasting prescriptions for economic improvement, with 68.6 percent saying the government should spend less to get the economy back on track, compared with 18.8 percent who felt it should spend more. But 39.6 percent said American citizens should spend more to aid the economy versus 30.5 percent who advocated less spending for that purpose.

Overwhelming majorities of 79.2 percent and 86.1 percent felt that the current tax system isn’t fair and should be reformed, respectively, but the proper tax remedy drew less consensus. Nearly four in 10 — 39.7 percent — were in favor of reform of the current system, while 35.5 percent said they were in favor of a flat tax. Men were far more likely to support a flat tax — 42.7 percent of men favored the idea versus 28.6 percent of women.

Asked which political movement they identified with more, 20.4 percent indicated the Tea Party and 21.1 percent said the Occupy Wall Street movement, but 58.5 percent said neither.

Data for American Pulse was compiled by Survey Sampling International and disseminated by BIGinsight, a unit of Prosper Business Development.